Archive | October 2016

Free College is a REALLY Stupid Idea

No, it’s not really stupid because it’s socialist in nature. It is socialist in nature, and that is, itself, pretty stupid. However, even if we accepted the idea of socialism, the notion of free higher education is nothing short of stupid. It is also backward and is a great example of how the state and its many institutions and institutionalized practices keep society from properly evolving. If the state hadn’t morphed into a nanny government, the solution I’m about to propose would already have manifested, because it’s both obvious and logical; it’s literally the next step in social evolution, but instead everyone is looking to the government to solve a problem that the government honestly can’t solve.

To ask for free college is to basically be someone shortly after the automobile was invented, demanding that the government provide everyone with a horse-drawn cart. You’re asking for something that is mostly obsolete now and is going to become increasingly obsolete as we move into the future.

The Internet has changed everything. In fact, the World Wide Web will go down as the greatest invention in our species’ history, so overwhelming is its scope. We have not even begun to realize the full impact of the Internet, and this is one such example. It allows a person in the middle of nowhere in Mississippi to communicate through video chat instantly with someone in Siberia. The impact of something like that has not yet been felt, but future generations will take it for granted, and I firmly believe that it heralds the eventual end of war. “The Russians” are no longer some strange, foreign people–they are people we play video games with, that we are friends with on Twitter and Facebook. They are not boogeymen any longer; they are real people. It becomes a lot harder to let your government drop a bomb on someone’s city when you were talking to that someone last week during a chess match, you know?

This has only now started to become apparent, but it’s no surprise that millennials are among the loudest peace advocates everywhere in the world, from the United States to the Middle East to China. Succeeding generations will be even louder in their criticisms of war, because for the first time in human history, we don’t have to take our government’s word for it that “China is like totes 4 real raping and eating babies!!11one!!” because we actually know people in China. Earlier today, I played chess against someone from a country whose flag I didn’t even freaking recognize–but I’d recognize it if President Obama declared, “Yeah, we’re gonna drop some bombs on this place.”

“No!” I would say. “You can’t do that… A real person lives there…”

It’s a beautiful thing, the Internet, and we must protect it from all encroachments of government. There has never been a tool more powerful at our disposal. Under no circumstances should we allow any government to touch it. But none of this is my point–it’s just generally background because it’s true. In the year 2500, people will look back and identify the Internet as mankind’s most profound achievement, because an end to war will be just one of its many remarkable benefits.

Another is that it has placed the sum of human knowledge literally at our fingertips. I remarked recently:

I’m supposed to believe that the same people who can’t be bothered to take four seconds to click New Tab and look something up on Google before sharing it on Facebook when the sum of human knowledge is available for free at their fingertips will spend four years in college if it’s free? Yeah, okay.

There’s an important thing here that has to be addressed; we can’t just pretend like it’s not true. Anything you want to know is available on the Internet. No matter how obscure the knowledge is, and no matter how advanced it is, the information is out there, somewhere, on the Internet. And it’s free. If you have an Internet connection, anything that you want to learn about… can be learned… for free. Right now. “Free education” people want? You can’t get better free education than the Internet; you literally cannot.

College is a tremendous investment of time and energy. It is an investment of such magnitude that it makes a simple Google search insignificant. Let’s not be mistaken about this: there is strong overlap between people who want free higher education and people who can’t be bothered to look things up before sharing them on Facebook. I have no data to back this up, but considering how extraordinarily common it is that people share things without looking them up, it is virtually guaranteed that there is high overlap. People will gladly share posts about how three prominent Wikileaks administrators totally died under mysterious circumstances and it’s Hillary’s fault rather than looking it up and finding that the three people referenced all died of explicitly explained causes, two of which were cancer, for fuck’s sake. Yet they would… like totes 4 real… invest four years of their life into going to college.

If only it was free!

Now, all that said, the solution.

Colleges and universities are obsolete. Unless you’re seeking a Master’s degree or a Doctorate, there is nothing you can learn in a college or university that you cannot learn for free on the Internet. If you’re seeking a 6 or 8-year degree, then, yes, a good chunk of your work will involve original research, a dissertation, a thesis, and ultra-advanced learning that either isn’t readily available on the Internet or can’t be verified. Once we start getting the mathematics of quantum neutrino fields*, yeah, there’s a place for a university to fit in.

What we need is to adjust to the Internet and the new education paradigm that it has created. I would gladly go toe-to-toe with any political theorist or economist in the world. I would stake my self-education against their university-education any day of the week, and I say this for two reasons.

First, I’m probably smarter than they are. I don’t mean this as a statement of arrogance, but one of fact; as a MENSA member, the odds are in my favor. These are also fields that I have explored extensively, going through the whole process of the Dunning-Kruger Effect and coming out on the other side, educated. Plus, much of what modern “official” economists say is nothing more than scientific woo.

Second, while I was in college I took Macroeconomics I and Macroeconomics II as electives, and passed both with As and never even purchased my book for the classes. So I actually had the chance to stack my self-education against the system’s education, and I came out on top. I’ve written about changes in Supply curves having effects on equilibrium prices, after all. So I know from first-hand experience that motivated self-education is not only adequate; it’s probably preferable. Because it’s free, it’s definitely preferable.

It would be the height of stupidity to throw a bunch of money at the current education institution in order to prop up a system that is already obsolete. Intelligent people go where the knowledge is. Through the last several centuries, universities were “where the knowledge was.” So intelligent people who wanted to learn naturally went to universities. This is no longer the case. The universities surely still have knowledge, but they are not the exclusive holders of that knowledge anymore. Why on Earth would we even consider paying gigantic, extortionate, exorbitant fees and tuitions for knowledge that we can literally have for free already?

That’s… stupid.

It is. It’s supremely stupid. It’s short-sighted, simplistic, and stagnant. Short-sighted, simplistic, stagnant, and supremely stupid.

Are you familiar with CompTIA and its certifications? It has several: A+ certification, Security+ certification, Network+ certification… The list goes on. I’m not A+ or Network+ certified, because I don’t need to be. I was stupid and did waste the time going to college to get a degree that A+ and Network+ certifications are considered equivalent to. In fact, people really like the A+ certification; I’ve often been encouraged to get it anyway.

What is that, if not exactly what I’m proposing for other fields of study?

Rather than spending 4 years attending the University of Missisippi, study what you want to study, and then pop in there 5 or 6 Saturdays in a row, take the tests they deem appropriate. If you pass, they give you an Economics Certification equivalent to a BA. Already on college campuses, you can “comp” your way through several classes–I comped through Trig to take Calculus, after all. All we need is a system that allows you to comp the entire education program. What does it matter? If you have the knowledge, then you have the knowledge, regardless of whether you spent 4 years studying at home in your spare time, or 4 years studying at the university.

But that’s exactly it, isn’t it? The University of Mississippi would hate this. They could never charge $48,000 for you to take the tests and get your Economics 4 Certification. They’d probably not get away with charging $1,000 for that. CompTIA’s A+ exam is generally considered expensive, and it’s only $199 and you can typically get vouchers that knock off a huge portion of that.

Now we’re getting to the root of it.

Colleges and universities have a vested interest in keeping this certification thing down. How much money did ITT Tech lose to people who checked around for tech jobs and discovered that an A+ certification is generally considered equivalent to a 2 year degree, and sometimes a 4 year degree? Now start applying this to all fields. How many pharmacist assistants would skip college to simply get a certification, if they could get a Pharmacy 2 Certification for $600 by taking a test three weekends in a row? How much money would universities and colleges lose?

Millions. Billions, even.

Their tuition numbers would dwindle, with only people seeking Master’s and Doctorate’s degrees actually attending universities, and even they would comp through the first 4 years and get certifications instead. How would universities and colleges react? Why, they would lower their tuition fees, of course!

Because that’s what people do when Demand drops.

Stop asking the government to give you a horse-drawn carriage for free, and instead look into how you might acquire an automobile. These systems are not in place. We desperately need them, though. And they will rise, as free market solutions to the problem, just as CompTIA and its tech certifications rose as free market solutions. However, we’re all looking in the wrong place. Don’t demand that the government give you money so that you can prop up an obsolete system.

* Wanton burrito meals?

Socialism is Full Wagner On Steroids

Unless you’re one of 500~ people who like the page Shit Kyle Wagner Says, then you’re probably not going to get the reference in the title. If you’re an anarchist, voluntaryist, or libertarian, though, go to that page and enjoy what this self-professed “former anarcho-capitalist who ‘woke up’ and became a libertarian who ‘woke up’ and became a liberty-leaning conservative who still calls himself a libertarian even as he says some of the dumbest shit you’ll ever see” has to say.

I got into a discussion with someone recently about Socialism versus Capitalism, and the argument ultimately sank into emotional territory; after it was all said and done, the question asked of me was this:

There are four million homeless people in Spain and eleven million houses that are empty. This is a waste of resources, and it’s morally wrong.

At first glance, this is not a good argument but a great one, for how can he be incorrect? Is it not clearly a waste of resources for so many houses to go empty while so many people need houses? Is it not obvious that the efficient use of those resources would have produced exactly as many houses are needed and would have left no one homeless? We can address the “morally wrong” statement later; for now, are these things not obvious?

They are, but only at a surface glance–and a limited one that sees only the first ten feet. It is a car driving around at night whose headlights reveal only the next thirty feet of highway, so the driver assumes he can relax and take his hands off the steering wheel, never considering that there is a sharp turn thirty-five feet away. “I can’t see it, so it’s not there!” the driver proclaims. If you’d dispute this assessment, then you should go and read the actual comment chain, where the socialist argues exactly that, saying that because he can’t see the value of x job at thirty-five feet away, it must have no value.

What a strange notion.

Let’s examine, for a moment, what’s happening here. The anonymous socialist–who is almost certainly the same guy who gave a competing answer to the question–is making a valuation judgment on the use of these resources, saying, “They are without value.” Obviously, he is being hyperbolic, and I’m not faulting him for that. What he means is that the job has almost no value; there’s no way he means that the job has absolutely zero value to anyone. If nothing else, the job has value for the person who does that job, so we have to assume that he meant “The job has very little value.”

However, we know that all valuation judgments are subjective. He is deciding that this job has no value based on his internal understanding of what has value and what doesn’t, and his understanding is colored by his own biases and predilections. To see what I mean, let’s look at another value statement.

“Drugs are bad.”

Sure, most people would agree, but why are drugs bad? Well–for a moment putting on the appropriate hat–they are damaging to society and to the individual.

Okay, but why is “damage to the individual” bad? Why is “damage to society” bad?

We’ll find that these questions are actually impossible to answer. We can do this with any value statement. What we find are value statements built on assumed value statements. Drugs are bad because damage to the individual is bad. However, when pressed, when we trace this seemingly-infinite regress back to its source, we are left finding ourselves saying, “Because it just is!” Let’s do another, more controversial one.

“Murderers are bad.”

Again, virtually everyone would agree–as would I–but why are murderers bad? Because killing people is wrong. But why is killing people wrong? Because it’s a violation of their rights? That’s not an answer–it’s rephrasing the assumption. Why is it wrong to violate people’s rights? Again, we are ultimately left with only “Because it just is!”

It’s not a problem that we build our value judgments upon assumptions that are built on assumptions that are built on assumptions. I firmly agree that murderers are bad, and I would certainly say that they’re bad because killing people is wrong because it’s a violation of their rights. The point is that it can’t be demonstrated. It isn’t objective. This value that we’ve set–even if 100% of all people agree with it–is not objective. Murder is no more objectively wrong than homosexuality is objectively wrong. This is what led Nietzsche to his observation that power is good, and that which causes a will to power is good; what is bad is weakness. Strictly speaking, Nietzsche is more right with his valuation judgments than anyone else, but only because his good and evil–a Blue and Orange morality if ever there was one–is built on the notion that survival of the species, ensured through power of the individual, is critical. This, too, is an assumption–Why is it good for the species to survive?–and Nietzsche was well aware of that. However, we’re getting into topics here that aren’t really related enough to warrant this much attention.

In effect, what we have from this socialist are two subjective valuation statements that are being said as though they are objective truths. “The resources are wasted in this manner,” meaning that the value of the resources is higher than the value of how they are presently being used; “this is morally wrong,” meaning that this state of affairs is “bad.”

Not only are these built upon assumptions, but how are these comparisons even made?

As Henry Hazlitt observed in The Foundations of Morality*, what is happening here is that the socialist is comparing an is to an ought. I’ve spoken about this before, how we humans do this constantly, comparing one state of affairs to another, and often one of those hypothetical states of existence is an idealized perfect one. Hazlitt put it best, though–we are looking at what is and comparing it to what ought be.

Obviously, though, we have a problem. Our imagining of what ought be is based on our assumptions of what is good and what is bad, and our assessments of good and bad are built on other assumptions. We might say “The world is in poor shape because people still kill one another, and we shouldn’t.” On the surface, yes–absolutely. However… We are comparing the state of the world as it is to how we think it ought be. So how do we think the world ought be? It ought be free of murder. Why do we think that? Because murder is wrong. Why do we think that? Because a violation of someone’s rights is wrong. Why do we think that? Because it just is.

My contention here isn’t that these subjective value statements derived from various assumptions are wrong. How could I even begin to make such a case? That they are wrong is, itself, a value statement, which is, itself, built on other assumptions. Beyond that, though, I agree–“It just is” wrong to violate someone’s rights. Far from arguing that these assumptions must be discarded, I firmly agree that these assumptions are critical, otherwise we can’t get anything done.

After all, every single day we assume that reality is real. Why do you get out and go to work? Because you assume that you’d really starve to death and really become homeless if you didn’t. Are these assumptions valid? Probably–but we can’t say definitively. Maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe everyone else would, but you’re a magical human being who doesn’t need to actually eat. Can you say you’re not? Have you ever tried? Maybe you’d experience the pains and mental anguish of hunger but would never actually die from it. Can you say this isn’t true? No. Does this mean you should chance it, and sit at home and wait to see if you die of starvation? No–make the assumption that you would starve, and take your ass to work.

I don’t demand that we stop assuming things and that we stop assigning values based on these assumptions.

I’m simply saying that we need to be aware that they are subjective statements built on assumptions, and that not one of us is objectively or demonstrably right about any value statement.

We can see, then, the immediate flaw in the socialist ideology. Not only does it contend that the state can set values correctly, thereby assuming that a thing has objective values and thereby assuming that the state can find them, but it proceeds on that assumption as though it is an objective truth. In fact, I could–and did–make the argument that it would be a waste of resources to give the houses to the four million homeless.

Think about it like this. I have a spare $100, even after I’ve put money into savings. It’s just spare money for me, completely disposable. A hooker comes up to me and tells me that she’s got STDs and is addicted to meth, and that she spent all of her money on meth and now doesn’t have money to buy food. The socialist’s position is that it would be a “waste of resources” and an “inefficient use of resources” if I told her no and kept my money to myself, saving it for another day. “You should give it to the prostitute,” says the socialist, “because she can put it to use buying food.”

The value statements can’t end there, though. What is the value of this woman having food? She will continue going through the streets fucking dudes and probably giving them STDs in the process. This must be included in the assessment of efficiently used resources. Maybe her survival means that she gives birth to a kid who grows up to be the next Stephen Hawking. This must also be included in the assessment. To make any definitive value statement requires omniscience–that is what I’m getting at. We must be able to compare an is to an ought, and we must be able to identify every single variable and every single consequence of the action. This is an impossible task.

Regardless, I don’t see how forcing me to give $100 to a drug-addicted, disease-ridden prostitute is a more efficient use of the money than if I just kept it to be used at a later date. They may be equally efficient, and letting me keep it may be more efficient. We don’t know. We can’t know.

But the socialist claims to.

* A fantastic philosophical work, though I have to confess that Hazlitt is occasionally pretty hard to read. However, if you can get through Nietzsche and things like Thus Spoke Zarathustra**, then Hazlitt shouldn’t be a problem.

** Good luck with that.

Have We Discovered Extraterrestrial Intelligence?

Preliminary evidence suggests that, indeed, we have.

I was first alerted to this by a friend who shared a Youtube video. I groaned in displeasure when I saw it–very rarely does an ET-related Youtube video have anything of substance to talk about, and, when they do, it’s usually clear cases of pareidolia. When I checked the description, I found zero news articles; instead, it just cited other Youtube videos. But we’re talking about extraterrestrials. We’re talking about the discovery of intelligent life in other parts of the galaxy and universe. There is nothing more important to our species than that, as it will deliver us a reality check of epic proportions, firmly reminding us of how small and insignificant we are. We need that. So I googled it.

And… Holy shit. It’s legit.

Not only have we probably found E.T.–based on the evidence thus far, though there is no definitive conclusion–but it seems that the aliens we found have a remarkable civilization spanning 234 stars, and that the signal originates with an alien civilization trying to alert us, and anyone else who may be out there, of its existence. This is pure speculation. If this is the case, then this would suggest to me that they are not only highly advanced–to the point that they can colonize at least 234 star systems–but have discovered no intelligent life in their travels, and are extremely lonely. We do the same thing here on Earth: desperately sending out and receiving signals from every corner of the universe, hoping each passing minute that we hear a whisper in the cold darkness of the universe. It should be no surprise that other civilizations would do the same, and that they span 234 star systems is discouraging, awe-inspiring, and depressing. However lonely we are as we whisper into the vast stretches of space whether anyone is out there, a civilization doing it from 234 planets is exponentially more lonely.

Doctors Ermanno F. Borra and Eric Trottier of the Physics Department at Laval University in Quebec recently published this paper explaining their findings and their hypothesis. It has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. We are, of course, being urged not to jump the gun here, because it’s certainly not final, but… it’s so hard not to jump the gun. Actual scientists–actual physicists–are suggesting that the only explanation for phenomena they’ve found is extraterrestrial intelligence, and the signal they found fits perfectly with what they predicted an alien civilization would use. That’s a shocking prediction, and it strikes me as the most solid piece of evidence–considering I’m not advanced enough in physics to fully process the rest of it (I changed my major from Physics after only a few semesters).

Hell, only yesterday I took a joke online quiz where I was tasked with choosing which of two titles was a real physics paper and which was made-up gobbledygook, and I did only slightly better than a monkey would have. Physics has gotten extremely obscure, and extraordinarily complicated, as we peeled back from our perceptions and peered into the underlying elements of the universe. Things got weird and confusing very quickly, with particles being waves and waves being particles, with massless particles, with particles managing to be in two places simultaneously… It’s all very strange.

When we sent our first rovers to Mars, we had a clear list of things we were looking for, and we said, “If it has this, this, and this, then we’ll have found life on Mars.” Then we collected samples, the rover tested them, and NASA said, “It’s inconclusive.” The reality, though, was that every single item on our checklist had been checked off–the book We Are Not Alone goes into the topic in substantial detail. It was not a cover-up; don’t get me wrong. NASA isn’t hiding anything.

In fact, I find the idea that NASA is hiding extraterrestrials from us to be laughable, and it’s increasingly stupid in the age of Wikileaks and widespread hacks. Plus, I’m expecting to believe that the incompetent ass government that lost $6.5 trillion has successfully hidden proof of alien life from us for decades? While I’d certainly admit that some portions of the government would be capable of it–just look at 9/11, and how they hid the truth from us there by selectively omitting things from the 9/11 Commission Report… like the fact that Building 7 went down that day, too…–I find it impossible to believe that an entire government agency and multiple people could be in on the lie.

But what if they were?

You know? If we are to keep an open mind, we have to ask questions like that.

If NASA was hiding evidence of extraterrestrial life from us, what might that look like? Well, we would expect there to be whispers of the truth and evidence here and there that slipped through the cracks. We would expect the ISS livefeed to cut out when a UFO appeared on camera. We would expect them to go from “normal conversation” to suddenly using very strange jargon during radio broadcasts. We would expect that some former astronauts and NASA administrators would come forward publicly and speak the truth. Indeed, if NASA was hiding evidence of extraterrestrial life from us, it would look exactly like what the current NASA situation looks like. However, if they weren’t and there were simply former astronauts lying to make a quick buck, and if there were people who wanted to believe, then it would also look exactly like what the current situation looks like.

I would say… The results are “inconclusive” whether NASA is covering anything up, but I lean toward “NASA is not covering anything up.”

The point of all that was actually to point out that “inconclusive” is a big word in the scientific community, and one that is used often because no one wants to say anything “conclusively” and then be proven wrong. Reluctance, caution, and skepticism are critical to science; there is no other group in the world as single-mindedly dedicated to skepticism as scientific communities. They are conservative, hesitant, and often incredulous.

When the Higgs Boson was predicted to exist in tandem with the Higgs Field that interacted with energy and gave matter mass, the underlying math and science were solid, but we had no evidence that the particle existed. CERN went into action and began collecting data. The average person probably can’t appreciate it, but CERN did not declare that they had found the Higgs Boson with the very first piece of evidence; they compiled overwhelming amounts of evidence, and then made the announcement. When LIGO detected gravity waves, the same thing happened; scientists did not proclaim victory at the first piece of evidence. They waited, verified, checked, and rechecked, and then they made the announcement.

Now people who are part of that very same reluctant, skeptical, and cautious community are saying that we have found something that they cannot explain in any other way than “it came from an extraterrestrial intelligence.” That is not a claim to be made lightly, and it speaks to our scientific ignorance. There is every possibility that it’s simply some astronomical phenomenon we have never observed before. It was, after all, only recently that we discovered gravity waves–an astronomical phenomenon that we had never observed before. So there is every chance that this isn’t extraterrestrial intelligence.

But there’s also every chance that it is.

 

Corporations, Communism, and Nihilism

I want you to imagine a group of people who communally share their resources. No one person owns anything; everything belongs to The Group, not to an individual. Each individual contributes according to the rules of the group, and they receive some restitution for their labor. There is a hierarchy in this group, however. At the top of the pyramid are elected people who set the policies that they are voted to set, and, though these elected people have authority, none of them can just take the group’s resources and run. Instead, what allotment of the resources these elected officials receive is determined by a sort of another group–a board of people.

When a person needs to use part of The Group’s resources for something, they fill out some paperwork, which is in turn sent to people who are higher on the totem pole, and someone approves or disapproves of the requisition. However, each person is guaranteed a specific amount of the resources as part of their labor agreement, and these guaranteed resources can be used in whatever way the individual wants. Strictly speaking, additional resources could be requisitioned for any reason the individual wants, too, but it’s more likely that a requisition will be approved if the request for additional resources is more an investment than a consumption.

What did we just describe?

Socialism? Communism?

Or a corporation?

We have to focus more on what things are than what they are called, and this is precisely why. If I were to tell someone that corporations are socialist in nature, I would be laughed out of the room. Yet here we are. The above description could describe either a communist society or the inner workings of a corporation. This is not a word game. It’s not a pun, and it’s not clever linguistics. This is what they are.

Putting anarcho-communism aside for a moment–because the majority of communists aren’t anarchists, and neither are most socialists–the one distinguishing factor between corporations and the socialist society would be that, ideally, in the socialist society, everyone’s personal “restitution for labor”–that is, “wages,” but I avoided that word purposely–would be equal.

This is always a question that we must ask the communist: do you truly believe that the McDonald’s worker and the President of the United States deserve an equal wage? Does the socialist truly believe that the Wal-Mart stocker and the Congressional official deserve an equal wage? For those rare individuals who would answer affirmatively, there is little more to be said; we cannot argue with people who believe that these people are making equal contributions to society.

The question of wages is a strange one, because we have not long been selling our labor in such numbers. Throughout most of human history, a person’s sold labor was a supplement; we did not buy food and clothing, because we grew our own and made our own. We sold our labor when we needed to purchase those things that we could not produce ourselves; when we needed to visit the blacksmith, for example. While there were blacksmiths, of course, who did primarily sell their labor as a means of living, they were still rare–artisans, craftsmen, and tailors constituted a middle class.

Recent times have redefined human society such that virtually everyone sells their labor, no one grows their own food, and your kids would be laughed out of school–you might end up facing criminal charges, as well–if you sent your children to school in clothing that you made. This is a relatively new state of affairs, though. Throughout most of human history, you put in the work to grow your own food and, if you did not, you starved.

This is where communists and socialists wholly break with nature. It is the responsibility of an animal to secure its sustenance, either through predation or production–hunting or gathering. That it would even be possible for one animal to contribute nothing to their own survival, yet still survive, is a new development. Remembering that compassion is a luxury, the Johnson family would not have been willing to share their food with the Lennox family when the Lennox family chopped down a few trees and proclaimed, “There. I tried.”

A fundamental truth has been lost in the nihilistic fervor of western society: the universe doesn’t give a fuck about us, we are animals, and it is the responsibility of an animal to ensure its own survival. In the event that it cannot, compassion should probably be afforded to the animal by those who can afford that luxury, if they so choose, but that we can have this conversation in the first place shows that we have lost all semblance of reason and sanity. What the hell do you mean that I must have compassion?

Suffering is made contagious by pity.

We have reached this point where we are today because of capitalism. Let there be no doubt about it. It was capitalism that allowed us the luxury of deciding that we must not send our four-year-old children to be maimed in glass factories. If you went to Victorian London, do you know what you would see?

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ” ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!”
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.
There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
That curled like a lamb’s back, was shaved, so I said,
“Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head’s bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.”
And so he was quiet, & that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, & Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black;
And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins & set them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run,
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.
Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.
And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father & never want joy.
And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark
And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm;
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

During the Irish Famine it was not unusual for parents to sell their children. We look back on those 19th century atrocities and condemn them–as rightly we should–but we condemn them without understanding them. Parents sent their children to work in glass factories to be maimed for life because they had no choice. It was that or starve. Parents sold their children into slavery–or worse–because it was that or starve. What would you do, if you went back in time and saw these things happening? Would you come forward and outlaw it? Would you say, “No! If I see you sending your children to work in glass factories, I will throw you in prison”?

Then you would condemn them to death.

It was not legislation or happy feelings that put a stop to this practice. It was not people slapping their foreheads and proclaiming, “Oh, shit. You know? It’s probably not a great idea to sell our children.”

It was capitalism.

It was prosperity.

People stopped sending their children to be maimed in factories when it was no longer necessary, and shortly thereafter we condemned and outlawed it. It was a necessity born of poverty–a poverty that stretched back to the time when peasants grew their own food, something that had become increasingly unfeasible.

Look to China today. How much sweatshop labor and child labor is there in China today? Oh, there is still child labor and sweatshop labor, but it has been drastically reduced from what it was thirty years ago. People in China are now buying vehicles, building better homes, securing more stable electricity–why? Why are the Chinese prospering?

Because of capitalism.

We are such a curious species.

We use these tools to climb to such high plateaus, and then we cast off the tools and condemn them, insist that we don’t need them because we have better tools, and then we flounder on the side of the mountain, thrashing about and asking stupidly, “What went wrong? We had it all figured out!”

The greatest example of this is how Trump is being condemned for expressing that he uses his power, fame, and wealth to cajole women into sleeping with him. Even if Donald Trump never touched a woman without her consent, the same people would be condemning him, and for the same reason.

Fuck that.

Good for you, Donald.

We are animals–stupid, petty, violent, horny animals. Unfortunately, at some point during our evolutionary line we developed sentience, which in turn led to an out-of-control ego, which we immediately fed by convincing ourselves that we are anything but animals, despite all evidence to the contrary. All the evidence suggests that nothing but your own perceptions separates you from the chair you’re sitting in, and nothing but ego distinguishes you from the wolf.

The difference is that the wolf has forgotten what it is. It’s a stupid, petty, violent, horny animal, and it has no delusions about it. So the wolf survives, doing what it was programmed by biology to do. The wolf has no compassion because the only things the wolf could conceivably have compassion for is its prey–and it cannot be allowed the luxury of compassion for its prey; its own survival depends on it.

We humans, though… What is the soul?

The soul is two things. It is a delusion that we are immortal, and it is a symbol of our own vanity. Ask any person who believes they are immortal* whether animals have souls, and they will almost all answer the same: “No.” The soul is what allows this delusion to persist today, when, by all rights, it should have been cast off when it was proven beyond all doubt that personality is an electrochemical reaction in the brain, and that neither personality nor self exist external of the brain. Yet it persists, a delusion that we cannot let go of.

It is the greatest of ironies that, yes, we can be better. We can be better than the other animals with whom we share a planet and a lineage. We do have a sense of self, and we are afforded the luxury of compassion. It would be foolish to suggest that we forego this luxury in the name of some Neo-Luddism insanity. We are what we are, and “what we are” includes wonderful potential–a potential that has actualized and allowed us the luxury of compassion.

But we must not forget, as we exercise that compassion, that it is a luxury, and the very things which purchased that luxury are the very things we must control if we are to show compassion.

* Let’s not mince words about it–this is what advocates of “souls” are suggesting.

Pro-Corporation or Pro-Market

I’m sure that I’ve discussed it before, but never in the detail it deserves, so I want to talk about the notion of free markets, and how libertarians are often considered to be shills for major corporations. This is true… for those libertarians who have misunderstood something somewhere along the way. To clarify what I’m talking about, I want to share this Facebook post I saw earlier:

img_20161022_224539

Simple enough, right? “I don’t approve of this item for this reason and want the company to stop selling it.”

I would disagree.

I would disagree.

Whether you agree or disagree with the sentiment, nothing untoward has happened here. Even if Wal-Mart complies, there’s been no force, violence, or coercion–no aggression. It’s just someone attempting to boycott a product that is sold by a corporation, and we all accept that it’s consumers’ right to refuse to buy a product, to speak out against a product, and to come together to exercise their influence over the company, with the power of their wallets, to get the company to do what they want. The company is free to refuse, and consumers are free to go elsewhere. This is clearly not an act of force, lest literally everything becomes an act of force.

Yet some libertarians disagree.

img_20161022_224748

Okay. No. No, it wouldn’t. The OP did not suggest or ask for legislation banning the sale of such items. He asked that Wal-Mart pull it from shelves. If Wal-Mart listens and bans the item, absolutely no one’s liberty has been violated. You do not have the right to purchase this item from Wal-Mart. In order for it to violate liberty, you must have the right to do it, and you simply cannot have the right to purchase a random item from Wal-Mart. If you had that right, then Wal-Mart would be required to sell the item, else they’d be violating your rights, and thus you’d be firmly violating their right to choose what they do and don’t sell.

This is the sort of thing that gets libertarians called corporate shills. Anarcho-capitalism and libertarianism depend on the power of consumers to influence businesses, and boycotts are a critical part of that process. Refusing to buy the item, asking friends not to buy the item, and saying, “I will take my money elsewhere if you don’t share the values that I share,” are all essential parts of the free market.

img_20161022_224645

How is it “not very libertarian?”

By this logic, it’s “not very libertarian” to give money to lung cancer charities. It’s “not very libertarian” to feel sorry for drug addicts. This person acts like suicidal depression isn’t a mental illness or something. “You shouldn’t feel bad for people who have this mental illness. It’s not very libertarian.”

Sympathy, apparently, is “not very libertarian.”

Libertarians are often accused of being heartless, wanting to let the sick die, and not caring if the poor starve. And though I’ve spent years arguing that this is a straw man built of misunderstood ideas, here is someone who shares those misunderstood ideas and is a straw man. It’s “not very libertarian” to feel sorry for someone with what society has deemed a mental illness?

Granted, I’d argue that there’s nothing inherently insane or ill about being suicidal, but that’s a conversation for another day. To most people, attempting suicide is a sign of mental illness. So this person is saying it’s “not very libertarian” to feel sympathy for people who have mental illnesses.

Awesome.

Thanks for setting libertarianism back.

img_20161022_224721

This is letting the free market decide. The right to boycott and demand that corporations behave, by explicitly or implicitly threatening to take your money elsewhere, is a critical component of the free market.

There is nothing really lost here if Wal-Mart doesn’t pull the item, if no one buys it, and if they lose money on it. This is a minor issue, and it’s why we need to get it out of the way now. Let me present this alternate scenario.

A: “I just found out Wal-Mart is selling Doing brand shoes! Doing brand shoes are manufactured by child labor in Chinese sweatshops! They need to pull these items off the shelves NOW!”

B: “I agree it’s messed up, but you can’t just have them ban it. That violates people’s right to choose to buy the shoes.”

C: “it’s not very libertarian to care what they do in Chinese manufacturing facilities.”

D: “Let the free market decide. If people don’t like it, they won’t buy them.”

See why the mentality is a problem now? “Let the free market sort it out” does not mean “Let the business do whatever it wants, and let it succeed or fail. Don’t try to influence it one way or another.”

That is where things get lost. The free market allows us to influence businesses. Not only do we have the right to, but it is actually imperative, as these free market tools like boycotting are precisely how we check corporate greed.

Yes, corporate greed is a problem. Only a fool denies that. The question is: how do we check it? One way is with the state, with laws. I reject this method as immoral.

The free market way is with boycotts, with shopping elsewhere, with spreading the word.

Simply put: libertarians argue that the state shouldn’t be holding corporations’ feet to the fire. That’s true, but someone has to do it. If you’re not in favor of consumers doing it and you’re not in favor of the state doing it, then, as far as I can fathom, you must be in favor of allowing corporations to reign unchecked, because I can’t imagine another way of doing it.

And, I’m sorry to say, this makes you a corporate shill.

And it’s “not very libertarian” to be a corporate shill.

Bullshit Collection Part 2: Obama’s Veto Overruled By Congress

Some time ago, a bill swept through Congress with surprising agreement, allowing Americans to sue foreign governments for sponsoring terrorist activity against Americans. President Obama vetoed the bill, saying that he feared it would set a dangerous precedent and would give foreign citizens the idea that they could sue the American Government. This is a bit difficult to parse, but bear with me, because…

That means that Obama knows that the shit that we’re getting up to throughout the world is wrong, and he knows that citizens of foreign governments would have legitimate grievances with the United States. We could start with how we bombed a wedding in Afghanistan, I suppose, if we wanted to give an example.

The concern that I’ve had has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia per se or my sympathy for 9/11 families, it has to do with me not wanting a situation in which we’re suddenly exposed to liabilities for all the work that we’re doing all around the world, and suddenly finding ourselves subject to the private lawsuits in courts where we don’t even know exactly whether they’re on the up and up, in some cases.

Yes, President Obama. That stuff you said. That’s the point.

“…exposed to liabilities for all the work that we’re doing all around the world…”

Yes, Mr. Obama. That’s exactly right.

Lots of people have come forward to agree with Obama and to point out how terrible it would be if we set up a system that allowed those smelly brown people to hit back against us. I mean, it’s common knowledge that they can’t hit against us directly–did you even see Operation Desert Storm? If anything is clear is that the countries in which “we’re doing all the work” have no recourse to stop us or to make us pay. Their bombs are crushed by our bombs; their aircraft massacred by ours.

We can impose No Fly Zones, grounding all of their aircraft, from halfway around the world with very little effort. They cannot fight us directly. This, of course, causes them to turn to “terrorism” in the same way that American colonists once turned to “terrorism” against the British. Does the Boston Tea Party ring a bell? How about the tactics of the American revolutionaries? The British fought war stupidly. They stood in a row, shot, and ducked to reload while the person behind them shot. They continued along like that–almost literal “ducks in a row.”

We couldn’t have defeated the British by playing by their rules, and they hated us for it. They called us cowards, cheaters, dishonorable. “You can’t do that!” they said. “You have to stand here, in front of us, as we take turns shooting at each other until someone wins!”

And we said, “Um, no. We’re not doing that. That’s dumb.”

So we shot from the trees. We didn’t form neat ranks and files. We hid in the hay bells, we hid in the trees and among the trees, we surrounded their forces, we shot from the sides, from the backs. And we won. Yet throughout all of that, we were not just terrorists; we were dishonorable terrorists, using despicable tactics because we couldn’t take them in a “fair fight.”

We face the same thing today–people all around the world who simply cannot go toe-to-toe with our military in the way that the American revolutionaries could not have gone toe-to-toe with the British army. For fuck’s sake, we didn’t even have a Navy, and the British Empire had the most powerful Navy in the world. Think about that when you think of places like Yemen and Syria, where our military is consistently “the most powerful in the world,” and theirs is… not anywhere close to that. They cannot take their fourteen F15 jets [numbers I’ve made up] and throw them at our nine gazillion F650 jets.

So they resort to sniping us from the trees, breaking our “rules of civilized war” in the process, fighting us in the only way that they can because going toe-to-toe with us simply isn’t an option–it’s suicide. We scream that it’s dishonorable, that it’s despicable, and that it’s terrorism. And maybe it is, if we could look back with the clarity of hindsight and say that the price of their freedom was bought with the lives of too many women and children, but we have no right to make such a determination in the first place. We are not the world’s police force, and neither are we the world’s judge.

I am continually baffled by the average American's lack of self-awareness.

I am continually baffled by the average American’s lack of self-awareness.

Nothing stops it, sir. That’s the point.

That’s precisely the point.

Anyone who wants to can attempt to sue the U.S. government for terrorism. This doesn’t mean anything. It only means something if a court of law–an impartial one, if we can find extraterrestrials from the Andromeda Galaxy who are anarchists and therefore can view this whole fucking mess objectively and are willing to preside over the case–finds for the plaintiff. Let the people of Iraq sue the American Government for terrorism. Let a court of law determine who is right.

A fair and objective court of law would find for the plaintiff. In Iraq, the United States is wholesale guilty of terrorism. Afghanistan, too, and likely at least a dozen others. Hell, the United States government is guilty of terrorism against the American people. Does this mean that we can sue the American government for terrorism? Because it should mean that.

Jonathon Horn knows, though–just look at what he said. He knows that the stuff the U.S. gets up to in other countries, whether he is okay with it or not, could be called terrorism rightly. If he didn’t think that, then he wouldn’t care whether foreign people sue the U.S. government, because the case would just be thrown out. So he knows. Let’s not just overlook that! It’s critical. He knows that the stuff that the American government does can, in at least a certain light, be rightly considered terrorism.

YES, FFS, THAT IS THE POINT

YES, FFS, THAT IS THE POINT

Germany has no case against the United States and absolutely could not sue us for terrorism. Our interactions with Germany have firmly fallen under the “acts of war” category, and so did the nuclear weapons. Terrorism =/= war. I firmly hate war, but we can’t pretend like an undeclared attack against a helpless nation who can’t fight back is remotely the same as allying with the British Empire to invade Nazi Europe, or that dropping twothose, not “that”–nuclear weapons on Japan is the same as hijacking planes and crashing them into buildings as a declaration of war.

China has no case against the United States, either. We saved their asses in World War 2. Your history sucks, Matt. Please go back to high school. Japan was slaughtering the Chinese, raping them, brutalizing them, torturing them, and China didn’t have much of a military to stand against it. China is the reason that the Allies won World War 2. Hitler was counting on Japan to help him attack the Soviets, coming from the east while Germany came from the west, and Japan instead focused its efforts on China, which proved a bit too big for them to just conquer simply. They weren’t stressing the Soviets, and that allows the Soviets to focus their efforts on the western border, where they lost more lives than anyone else in World War 2, and took the brunt of Nazi Germany’s attack. Then Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, we hit the Pacific Theater, and started advancing toward Japan. Every single island was a grueling battle of immeasurable death, because the Japanese refused to surrender any territory, forcing us to fight for every inch of land that we took. An attack on mainland Japan would have caused extraordinary death. The atomic bombs were a quick solution to a long, deadly problem.

How easily people forget.

The Soviet Union was our ally during World War 2, and so was China. We’ve yet to do anything worth suing over to either China or Russia. We’re about to do some fucked up shit to Russia, but we haven’t yet. China’s gripes could stem from Korea and Vietnam, but we were only in those places as part of a “UN Peacekeeping Effort,” which was a euphemism for “We’ve got military industrial complexes in several of the world’s largest countries that need to continue destroying resources and sharpening their weapons so, lulz, sorry people of Korea and Vietnam.” If anyone can be sued for those fiascos, it’s the United Nations–everyone. And China has no authority to sue on their behalf, because China every bit played a part in creating that mess.

Man, your history leaves a lot to be desired.

Iraq certainly would have a legitimate case. Iran… not so much. There was the virus we infected their centrifuges with–I don’t remember now what it was called–and it caused them to burn through machines at their nuclear refinement facilities, but that can’t be definitively pinned on the United States. We’d blame Israel, Israel would blame the United States; no one could trace the thing back to its source. Hell, didn’t we just give them a few hundred billion dollars? What are they going to sue us for? Giving them money?

I imagine your ignorant ass meant Syria.

Let’s think about Syria for a moment.

We have an established government led by Assad and backed by Russia. Then we have rebels. It started with a series of peaceful protests, Assad said “lol, not in my country” and started killing people and cracking down on protest. Then this happened:

syria

Then we slipped the guy a bunch of weapons and told him to use them to fight off the guards. They did so. This chaos and power struggle caused ISIS, who was already growing and taking territory in Iraq, where we had also left a power vacuum, to sweep into Syria and start claiming territory there, too. Syria absolutely has a case against the United States government. They stoked the fires of instability, provided arms to the rebels, helped create a power struggle, and the resultant mess is what we see today. Now, instead of working with Assad and Syria to restore stability to the country that we helped shatter, we’re only interested in digging the hole deeper, hoping that, maybe, we can dig deep enough and come out on the other side of the planet, standing on our heads.

simply-wrongI find myself becoming leery of people with four-letter names. lol

Alex is simply wrong. We can prove that Saudi Arabia funded 9/11. We can also prove that a Pakistani general gave Mohammed Atta one hundred thousand dollars while Atta was here and training for the 9/11 attack, though “truthers” have made it impossible for me to find this information not on a blogspot site. In fact, it’s actually kinda alarming how the top Google results go to a blog which cites another blog which cites another blog. I actually do have an actual print publication I could go to if I wanted to source the information, but it’s in the trunk of my car, it’s cold outside, and it’s, as the 9/11 Commission Report said, “of little practical significance.”

Oh.

I should have read your comment in full. You are a truther. That’s okay. So am I, and I think it’s sad that “truther” has become an insult. Yes, insult me because I want to know the truth, because I know that things don’t just happily break physical laws, because I know that a building couldn’t have fallen at freefall speeds, and because I remember that THREE TOWERS went down that day, one of which WASN’T EVEN HIT BY A GODDAMNED PLANE.

All three towers went down exactly the same way. One wasn’t even hit by a plane. And I’m the whackjob for wanting answers? You people going “Meh, that’s nothing worth discussing” are the lunatics! I don’t believe anything about 9/11, except that the 9/11 Commission was a provably biased one with ties to the Bush and Bin Laden families, and that the report–which I have actually taken the time to read–makes wonderful fairy tale reading, but is nothing more than that. You expect me to believe that this fire that magically melted steel allowed one of the terrorist’s passports to be found unscathed at 9/11? People, c’mon. That’s clearly planted evidence. How stupid can you be? It melted steel, but left paper undamaged?

Ugh. I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.

I don’t believe the government orchestrated 9/11. The most I will say is that the evidence suggests–like Cheney’s order for NORAD to stand down and the fact that we otherwise have 100% success intercepting aircraft, yet spectacularly failed repeatedly that day–that some powerful elements within the U.S. Government either knew about and allowed the 9/11 attack, or directly orchestrated it. That’s as far as I’ll go, because that’s as far as the evidence supports. Short of a revolution wherein we ransack all the classified documents and un-redact them, we’ll never be able to say more than that.

We’re not over there looting resources, though. You fail at contemporary events. The price of oil is low because the United States has started fracking like crazy, which allows us to get to oil that we couldn’t otherwise get to. We are the reason the price of oil plunged. It was only after the 2003 invasion of Iraq that the price of oil began skyrocketing. I remember paying $4.35/gallon. Now it’s half that. You bloody fool. If we were looting their oil, then the reverse would have happened: the price of oil would have gone down after 2003, and then back up more recently.

It wasn’t about oil, though. You’re too short-sighted. It was about the destruction of resources. Sparring, if you will. Competition fosters growth, improvement, and efficiency. If we want the most powerful military in the world, then what do we need? War. “War is the health of the state,” they say, and that’s certainly true here. We need our military to fight. Necessity is the mother of invention. We need the need to cause us to develop new, better rockets, new , better “defense” wink-wink systems. The military industrial complex cannot just build a bunch of tanks and then go, “Well, that was fun, and we made lots of money.”

No.

It has to then destroy those tanks so that it has a reason to invent new, better tanks. It needs to evaluate those tanks’ weaknesses and improve them. What better way to do all of this than to attack a country that couldn’t possibly pose any real threat to us? That’s all this is: sparring. And we’re massacring people’s lives while we do it. It should come as no surprise to you that immediately after one conflict ends, we find ourselves bogged down in another. That has been the case for decades. Why? What is to be gained? Efficiency, improvement, and growth, because war is competition of our killing machines against theirs.

This isn’t an answer in and of itself, though. Why do we want to make our killing machines better, more efficient, stronger, and faster? What is the purpose? What is the purpose of sparring against so many lightweight athletes?

Russia.

And now the moment has come, as it was always destined to. We’ve improved to ridiculous degrees. We now have fully automated killing machines. Do you really think that we would have military drones capable of dropping smart bombs on an area half a square mile from the comfort of a base in Nevada if we hadn’t had Korea, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, Libya, and Syria?

Where do you think the Nazis went after World War 2?

Only nineteen people were found guilty at Nuremberg.

And even discounting the Nazi thing as a minor one–which it is, realistically–it doesn’t matter. We made our intentions clear in the 50s that we would fight whenever, wherever. Why did we do that? Because there was the Soviet Union, the only nation in the world still capable of going toe-to-toe with us. That made them Public Enemy Number One, a mentality that, clearly, never went away.

We continued sharpening our swords and using all of these sparring matches to find ways to improve our attacks, strategies, technologies, methodologies, and tactics. The Russians… didn’t. The Soviet Union collapsed and set them back; they are only recently beginning to stretch back out, with action in Ukraine, Georgia, and Syria.

It is the intention of the United States Military Industrial Complex–a phrase I don’t particularly care for, because I don’t have much patience for conspiracy theories, but we are where we are…–to take out Russia now, before they’ve had a decade to spar with other nations and improve their own capabilities. The plan is to hit them now, before they can have sparring training. This will set them back another few decades, and will leave us with no one in the world who can challenge us as we terrorize smaller nations that couldn’t possibly hope to stand against us. We’ll continue competing and improving through the competition, while Russia will be set back more decades.

And then we will reign, the uncontested champion of the world.

This must be stopped.

Do not allow Hillary to win the election.

M16 is Still Here, and Deserves the Libertarian Vote

Call it a failure to stay on top of things if you’d like, but one way or another I had no idea that McAfee was still remotely interested in the 2016 presidential race; I wasn’t aware that he was willing to “fracture the party” as so many people accuse Darryl Perry of doing. The truth, though, is that McAfee isn’t fracturing anything, and neither is Perry; there was never any chance that I was going to vote for Gary Johnson, and I’ve been clear from the start that I’ve intended to write in John McAfee even though Gary Johnson won the nomination. My loyalty is to liberty, not to the nominee of the Libertarian Party.

These two should be aligned. My loyalty to liberty should mean that I am loyal to the Libertarian Party and its presidential candidate. However, that is not the case this year, as Gary Johnson and Bill Weld are running a campaign that is contrary to the principles of liberty and, in many cases, to the actual party platform.

I’m an anarcho-capitalist, so why don’t I support Darryl Perry? That’s just it: Darryl Perry is an anarcho-capitalist. We are talking about the Libertarian Party, not the Anarcho-Capitalist Party. Obviously, there is no AnCap Party–there can never be one–and the party to which we AnCaps most closely align is the Libertarian Party. I’ve often had people accuse me of wanting the LP to become the AnCap Party, but that isn’t the case; I want the Libertarian Party to nominate libertarians, not anarcho-capitalists.

In the long-run, of course, it is my position that libertarianism would lead to anarcho-capitalism, just as classical liberalism led to libertarianism. If we don’t include the rise of Fascism in the 20th century, that would be the case, anyway, but that’s really just a stern warning that we must always stay on guard against regressing back toward authoritarianism and losing the right to self-governance. We did used to be a society of classical liberals. Now we’re a society of fascists. I’ll substantiate that claim some other time, but if you’re reading this about why you should vote for John McAfee, then chances are you already know what I mean.

There’s some confusion about what distinguishes a minarchist from a libertarian. Quite a bit, actually, as minarchists and libertarians address totally different things. A lot of people think they’re synonyms; they’re not. A minarchist believes in a minimal state–one that provides for hospitals, schools, roads, or other similar things. There’s some debate among minarchists about what the state should provide, but it’s not important for our conversation. One way or another, the minarchist position is that some degree of state is necessary in order to provide for some services.

The Libertarian position, however, is that the role of the state should be to protect liberty. That’s it. That’s where the role of the state begins and ends to the libertarian. “Taxation is theft,” says the libertarian, while taxation is the only viable way of paying for the roads, hospitals, and schools that the minarchists want. So right there, we find a critical distinction between them.

An anarchist is someone who holds that the state is fundamentally and constitutionally incapable of protecting liberty and that it’s very existence is, in fact, an assault on liberty. This is the position that I hold. However, I know enough about human nature and power vacuums to know that abolishing the state today would do absolutely no good; before the end of the year, we would have simply produced a new state that rose in the vacuum. The goal of classical liberalism was to put 51% of the power back into the hands of the people. The goal of minarchism is to put 75% of the power back into the hands of the people. The goal of libertarianism is to put 99% of the power back into the hands of the people. The goal of anarchism is to put 100% of the power back into the hands of the people. To go from the 49% we have today under an unaccountable fascist government where we are tyrannized by a thousand bureuacratic despots to 100% would be an unmitigated disaster; the vacuum of power would be filled by the power-hungry, violent, and bloodthirsty, and it would immediately produce another state.

That’s my favorite thing to point out to people. What is the worst thing that could happen if we gave anarchy a chance? The absolute worst that could happen… is that we’d simply create another state. :/

Anyway, all that said, Darryl Perry is an Anarcho-Capitalist. I don’t know enough about his official platform, but I imagine that ideologically he is almost identical to John McAfee and to myself; the difference is that he’s an AnCap who is willing to become President and institute libertarian policy. Obviously, you can’t “institute” ancap policy. I don’t have a problem with this. I’m an anarcho-capitalist and I intend to vote, after all. It’s all about seeing the big picture and doing something in the short-term today that will pave the way for the future.

But that’s an excuse, really. Going from his positions, John McAfee could very well be an anarcho-capitalist himself.

No.

The truth is that John McAfee has my support because he’s the first candidate who I’ve ever heard speak with whom I agreed 100%.

Voting for John McAfee is like voting for myself.

Perry wasn’t in the Stossel Debate. Maybe if he had been, I would have been torn between him and John McAfee, but, honestly, it seems that it would have been redundant for Perry to have been in the debate too. When you have two actual libertarians talking, both of whom actually understand the NAP and abide it, you’re not going to get much argument between them. You’ll hear me squee in those podcasts as the awesomeness that is John McAfee washed over and converted me.

Let’s not forget–I went into the debate as a Gary Johnson supporter. Just moments before the debate, I tweeted that it was pointless; they’re libertarians, so what could they possibly disagree about? Minutes into the debate, Johnson had revealed how horribly un-libertarian he is, and Petersen was rejected from the outset for actively speaking out against the NAP. Meanwhile, there was John McAfee, saying exactly what you’d expect a libertarian to say, sticking to the principles of liberty, and advocating the NAP.

People like saying that “no libertarian is libertarian enough for an AnCap.”

Bullshit. John McAfee is.

I don’t demand that libertarians be anarcho-capitalists. I demand that they be libertarians.

I don’t demand that the Libertarian Party nominate anarcho-capitalists. I demand that they nominate libertarians.

I don’t demand that the Libertarian Party become the anarcho-capitalist party. I demand that they be the Libertarian Party.

The Libertarian Party has failed us horrifically by giving us a candidate who doesn’t seem to have ever read anything about libertarian philosophy, a candidate who “Thinks everyone should have liberty, as long as they don’t want to do something that I really, really dislike,” and a candidate who breaks from the NAP in a number of places. To add insult to injury, they also gave us Bill Weld, after Gary Johnson called him “the original Libertarian.”

Lots of people have fallen for the trap. Yes, it’s a trap.

They say that we hare hurting the “liberty movement” by standing by the principles of liberty. No, seriously–they actually say that. I’ve had countless people tell me that I’m hurting the movement because I dare to stand by the principles that founded the movement, that are the movement. One person accused us of “sabotaging” the liberty movement.

I think these people could use a dictionary. Sabotage:

deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct (something), especially for political or military advantage.

These people took the liberty movement, destroyed its principles–by their own admission–and twisted it into some liberty-leaning conservative “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” stuff that only resembles libertarianism in the way that, if you squint and turn your head and gouge out one of your eyes, I look kinda like Victoria Justice.

You've gotta squint really hard.

You’ve gotta squint really hard.

The principle of liberty is the NAP. Live and let live. A truce, as John McAfee and Judd Weiss rightly say. Liberty is tolerance; it is maximized tolerance. It is “I do not agree or support what you say and do, but as it does no harm to me or anyone else, I certainly will not stop you.”

Quote of the Day: “Gary Johnson looks like a libertarian in the same way that I look like Victoria Justice.”

This watering down of the principles, twisting them and distorting them, and sometimes outright discarding them is, by definition, sabotaging the movement.

Imagine if the Communist Party had an influx of Socialists, and the Socialists nominated a Socialist to be the presidential candidate of the Communist Party. Now imagine that the Communists in the party were ridiculed, mocked, and told that they were hurting the communist movement. Now imagine that the Communist Presidential candidate goes on television and tells people that his socialism is what “Communism is all about,” so masses upon masses upon masses of people come to believe that communism is socialism. Now imagine the sheer audacity, the arrogance, the stupidity, the deceit, the self-deceit… of having one of those socialists tell the communist, “No, you’re hurting the communist movement. This [Socialist] candidate is what the communist party is really about! We’re helping the movement! We’re growing the movement!”

No. You’re not.

You’re tainting the communist movement by twisting it into the socialist movement.

Worse yet, you’re actively destroying the communist movement by taking the name of their movement and using it as your own for your socialist movement, all the while refusing to admit that there’s an enormous, fundamental difference between the socialism you’re peddling and actual communism. Now the rest of the world is looking at those few communists who are actually communists and who actually advocate the communist movement and calling them “wackos,” “extremists” and “fringe lunatics,” because they are taking their cues from you. You have redefined “communism.” Whereas it once was a reflection of the communist movement, it has become a reflection of the socialist movement, and you’ve muddied the waters so much that no one even knows the difference, and those few who do know the difference are busy being attacked by you for daring to stand by the principles of the movement and for daring to try to stop you from destroying it.

You are not helping the liberty movement by turning it into some twisted “liberty-lite conservativist small government” movement that calls itself the “liberty movement.” You are, in fact, actively destroying the actual liberty movement. And you’re so convinced that you’re absolutely right, so convinced of your own self-righteous glory, and so convinced of your ultimate rightness that you are incapable of seeing that you are the reason it has become impossible to nominate an actual libertarian.

A: “We’re the x movement, and we’re built on y principle.”

B: “Yep, it’s great.”

A: “So let’s nominate someone who stands by y principle.”

B: “No. Let’s nominate someone who stands against y principle half the time, and who argues z principle the other half.”

A: “No, let’s not.”

C: “I agree with B.”

A: “But y is literally the principle of our movement.”

B: “We’re still the x movement, even if we don’t support y. Our nominee’s z positions are vaguely similar to y. Support our nominee. Stop trying to hurt the movement.”

A: “No. We’re x movement, and we stand with y principle.”

B: “You’re sabotaging the x movement.”

A: “The nominee doesn’t stand by the x movement’s principles!”

B: “Stop trying to sabotage the x movement.”

This is what has happened with the Libertarian Party. And we are the heretics.

I’d never even heard the word “purist” thrown at a libertarian until this election. Previously, I heard “not a libertarian” and “is a libertarian.” The idea that someone could be a libertarian without being… a libertarian… was nonsense. Maybe people were throwing it out in 2008, I don’t know; I was a bit young then. 2012 I wrote in Ron Paul anyway. I might have voted for Johnson, I don’t recall. It was a decision I struggled with. Loyalty is important to me. Once I pick a candidate, I pick a candidate.

Come to think of it, having an LNC nominate a candidate is somewhat counter to the party’s principles anyway. It’s not fully counter to it, but it doesn’t make sense. The Libertarian Party should handle its candidates exactly how it’s doing, except that an “official” nomination shouldn’t have been given to Johnson. We don’t do it that way with other offices–in fact, that’s been a problem in the past, with that Invictus clown who declared himself a libertarian. No LNC nominated him to be the party’s candidate. He simply said he was, and thus he was a libertarian candidate for that office.

Why do we change the rules when we’re discussing the Presidency?

The Libertarian Party just generally does strange stuff when it comes to the White House. Nominating a candidate at all is a great symbol of that. John McAfee is a Libertarian presidential candidate because he says he is. End of story, just like Invictus was a Libertarian representative candidate because he said he was.

That is something that needs to be addressed and fixed: the Libertarian Party’s insanity regarding the Oval Office. The party totally loses its mind when it starts looking at the White House, and I think that we even have an “official” candidate is the best example of that–if not that, then how about the fact that this “official” candidate stands counter to the party’s platform?

McAfee is a Libertarian Presidential candidate.

I hereby retract my endorsement of Darryl Perry, and instead endorse John McAfee. I apologize for the confusion, to all four people who give a shit.

I had no idea that McAfee was still interested in the 2016 race. This is probably my fault for not following him closely, but half of the stuff he shares–if not 90%–is regarding his I.T. firm, not politics, and many of his official candidate accounts have been quiet since the LNC stupidly gave the nomination to a guy who couldn’t possibly stand up to Trump and Hillary. Even after my endorsement, I made it clear that it was still a toss-up, and that I might still vote for McAfee. There’s no “might” to it now.

McAfee unequivocally has my support.

Final Debate Review: You’re Breaking My Heart, America

Well, the debates are finally over. Thankfully, they saved the best for last. This started out as a really good debate–it was an actual debate, and the moderator was fantastic, interrupting both candidates equally and encouraging dialogue and genuine conversation. It was one of the best presidential debates that I’ve ever seen, until about halfway through. Trump couldn’t resist opening his mouth to say “Wrong” over and over, and Hillary simply refused to shut up. The moderators should have the authority to cut the candidate’s microphone if they don’t shut up. There were numerous times when Hillary behaved like a child this time, refusing to stop talking even though the moderator just repeatedly asked her to stop.

I didn’t get to finish the debate. I had it paused with about fifteen minutes left, and they ended the live stream. Apparently, this meant I could no longer watch what my browser had already cached. Anyway, here are my notes, some brief and some long, about how the debate went.

“What kind of country are we going to be?” Hillary asks. She’s exactly right. The question this election is between globalism, imperialism, and world domination, or “something else.” I don’t know what you want that “something else” to be, but it doesn’t matter if Gary Johnson gets 30 Electoral College votes, Jill Stein gets 16, and Castle gets 9. It only matters if someone hits 270. I don’t care who you vote for. Except I really do beg you. I implore you–I am begging and pleading with you–do not vote for the warmongering, bloodthirsty Hillary Clinton. Yes, vote for Trump over her.

Between the two, I would take Trump any day of the week. I don’t know how badly Trump will fuck things up, but I am absolutely confident that he would not start World War 3. Conversely, I am reasonably certain that Hillary not only could start World War 3, but legitimately intends to. A lot of people have noticed this, and I am not alone in it. Regardless of what you think of him–and this is the first time I’ve ever seen any of his work–Stefan Molyneaux has compiled quite a collection of evidence supporting this idea; it’s pretty clear that Hillary wants Russia.

Please do the world the favor of watching the first half of that video before you vote. This is an enormous prospect, not something to roll your eyes at. We’ve all heard Hillary speaking about the Russians. “They’ve launched cyber attacks…” “We will punish them…” “We need leverage over them…” “We will retaliate with our military…” “Putin himself is doing this…” She hasn’t been subtle in any sense. If we elect Hillary and this war erupts, you cannot say that you didn’t see it coming. The writing is on the wall. All you have to do is look at it. With something as huge as war with Russia appearing to be on the line, we have to seriously consider things.

Deny Hillary 270 by voting for anyone else. Literally anyone else. Vote for Marilyn fucking Manson if you want, I don’t care. Just don’t vote for Hillary. She cannot win because I vote for Daryl Perry. She can only win because people voted for her. So don’t vote for her. Bam. Done. Easy-peasy.

“Do the founding fathers’ words mean what they say…?” lol. Loaded question much?

“Dark, unaccountable money coming into our election system…” From Hillary, that is fucking classic.

Trump’s question about the Supreme Court became an attack on Hillary about her deplorable comment? What the actual fuck? He did finally get to it and say it had to be interpreted in the spirit of what the founders meant, rattled on about the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is mostly useless to us today, as I wrote in The Power Gap, which you can buy there–none of the money goes to me, fyi. If you wanna throw money at me, throw it at the Foundation for Rational Economic Education or the Mises Institute. Anyway, our shotguns, pistols, and rifles won’t mean a fucking thing against the drones, cluster bombs, and scorpion missiles that our military has. The Second Amendment has long been gutted completely; it does nothing to help us defend ourselves from the state.

Okay, I see now. Trump does talk like a kid. Lots of small words, it is kinda off-putting.

Hillary says she respects the Second Amendment and gun ownership. “Can be and must be reasonable regulation.” No amount of regulation is reasonable. Regulation, by its very nature, is unreasonable. Outlawing guns will prevent gun-related deaths just like outlawing heroin prevented heroin-related deaths.

Fox is actually creating and fostering a dialogue. Holy shit! This is a debate! This is what we should have had the other two times! This is fantastic. Why can Fox do this, but CNN can’t? Fox, you truly deserve a shout-out for this.

Trump, “I am pro-life…” At the moment, are you really? Trump is saying that yes, he wants to see Roe v Wade overturned, and to let it be sent back to the states. It’s already mostly handled by the states, isn’t it? I had a family member who I had to drive to Arkansas because she couldn’t get an abortion here in Mississippi after the 4th week. Are people really trying to outlaw first month abortions?

I’m not getting along well lately with pro-life libertarians, because they’re so smug and sanctimonious when they decry abortion as a violation of the NAP, and thus unequivocally wrong. Um… So we’re just going to ignore the violation of the NAP against the woman as you force her to donate her body to someone else? My point has long been that there’s no longer any way to come out on the side of the NAP regarding abortion. It exists now, and there’s no way to resolve it. It’s the murkiest of murky murkiness. The Pro-Life people aren’t wrong to say that it’s a violation of the NAP, but being Pro-Life is also a violation of the NAP, just in a different way. So it comes down to being a question of whose rights you want to violate: the fetus’s or the woman’s. The pro-choice position is pro-choice: an individual should have the right to make that choice for themselves. That’s the best we can do definitively.

I’m pro-choice. This does not mean pro-abortion. This means that I’m against forcing a woman to donate her literal flesh for the benefit of someone else. I’m also against killing people. This is irreconcilable. Thus, I’m pro-choice: you make your decision. It’s merely a question of how you want to violate the NAP: with violence or with force.

Hillary is for late term, partial birth abortions? I’ll have to look into it, because I don’t know enough about it, but I doubt that’s acceptable in the mainstream.

Everything bad is “…a disaster” if you ask Trump. I found myself removing “It’s a disaster” from something that I wrote recently, because I heard it in Trump’s voice as I wrote it.

No, we don’t need strong borders. If you want gun control, you have to have strong borders. If you want the drug war, you have to have strong borders. We don’t want either of these things. It would be, as Trump likes to say, “a disaster.” Trump knows it, too. There’s a reason he mentions drug control and the border. I like how he just stops and says, “Now. I want to build a wall.”

Trump makes an emotional appeal to fear of drugs and crime. Hillary makes an emotional appeal to compassion about breaking up families. Neither of them are able to provide an actually rational answer. They both simply appeal to emotions. Different emotions, but it’s still an emotional appeal.

How does Hillary stand there nodding as Trump says that her husband signed NAFTA, “the worst trade deal in the history of mankind?”

We need those undocumented immigrants to take lower wages, out of the way of the Minimum Wage laws.

Fox is gonna blast her on those leaks! Awesome.

Oh. No they’re not.

“My dream is open markets and open borders…” “I was talking about energy.” Um… What?

I knew it was coming. “You mentioned Wikileaks. THE RUSSIANS!”

She even said “It came from Putin himself.” Jesus fucking Christ, the fearmongering. Why are people letting her deflect like this? There is not a shred of evidence supporting the notion that the Russians are behind this shit. Stop blaming them, or put up the evidence. This is blatant and obvious deflection. Anyone with a brain can see that. This is why I said that we needed McAfee. Assuming we’d nominated McAfee and assuming he’d magically reached 15%, I believe he’s one of few people capable of nailing down slippery Hillary.

“The Russians have engaged in espionage against the United States of America… You’re going to let him break up NATO… You continue to get help from him…” Goddamn, people, this is so bad. “Seventeen intelligence agencies have concluded these cyber attacks come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence the elections…”

There is literally no evidence to support that!

The moderators need to start cutting off people’s mics.

Japan and Korea already have nukes, Hillary.

“Our country cannot afford to defend Saudi Arabia, Germany, Japan, South Korea…” said Trump. Exactly, so we shouldn’t try. Or, if we’re going to be mercenaries, then yes, we have to charge for it.

If we’re going to be mercenaries for the rest of the world, then Trump isn’t wrong—they should pay. That’s actually not a bad position. We’re the world’s most powerful military by a huge margin and could charge top dollar as a mercenary force. I hate that idea, and don’t think we should be doing it. It’s a better idea than doing it for free in the name of “freedom.” Let the rebel forces raise the money and hire us as mercenaries, or get out of the mess.

“Growing the economy…” I’m so sick of hearing that. “Employment programs…” No. “Fight climate change…” No. “Help small businesses…” No. “Raise the national minimum wage…” ABSOLUTELY NOT. “Education that goes through college…” No. “Real apprenticeships…” Not the government’s responsibility. “We’re going to go where the money is…” Yes, and that’s why it’s not in the United States. “Rich and corporations will pay higher taxes…” Yes, and that’s why they’ll leave the United States.

Why are the candidates even talking about taxes? There’s literally nothing they can say about taxes that we can believe by any stretch of the imagination. Candidates always lie about taxes.

This moderator is funny. I like him. “Thank you, sir.”

Hillary really just blamed shit on Bush again. It’s been eight fucking years. Seriously, it’s pathetic to blame Bush in 2016.

Hillary! What the actual fuck? Your tax plan is not “bottom-up!” It’s still top-down, for fuck’s sake. The government is still the top.

The only way that we can compete with China and India’s 8% growths is by abolishing the Minimum Wage. There is literally no other way.

Trump said, “And they actually fact checked it and said I was right.” The way he stated this was freaking priceless. Like it was a rare thing that someone fact-checked him and found out that he told the truth because people usually fact-check him and find out that he’s pulling shit out of his ass…

Oh wait.

So Hillary called TPP “the gold standard in trade deals” without reading over the full thing? Are you serious? Because that’s what she just said. “I said it was the ‘gold standard’ until I read the full version.” So she would have signed this deal without fully reading it? Are you fucking kidding me? It’s bullshit anyway, and we all know it. Goddamnit, we all know it. They’ll modify the TPP very slightly, and Hillary will sign it.

This narrative about being kissed without consent needs to be dropped NOW. How stupid and insane have we gotten? When was the last time  you were out on a date and the guy said, “I had a really good time. May I kiss you?” Fuck that noise. You know that never fucking happened. I actually do have a history of asking a girl’s permission before kissing her, and when I was younger, I’d even ask permission before holding their hands. I know first-hand that it’s extraordinarily rare. I’d go as far as saying that if you’re not one of my exes, then the odds are that you’ve never had someone ask your permission to kiss you.

The point is “Kissed without my consent” is a trumped up charge and is absolute bullshit.

Holy shit. That’s actually true. People at the DNC really did pay people to go riot at Trump rallies. I’ve not watched the video yet, but this should be the top story everywhere. The Democrat Party needs to be thoroughly rejected over this. It is hopelessly corrupt. Any political party that would promote violence at an opponent’s rally has no business in the United States. Disband it immediately.

“He’s called a number of women disgusting…” Hillary. Really? How many times have you called him disgusting? So it’s okay to call a man disgusting, but not a woman?

“He never apologizes for anything…” But he does, though. He apologized for the remarks in the 2005 video. So… that’s a lie, and I suspect you know that’s a lie. He also apologized for the remarks about McCAin.

Hillary, no liberal has any right to accuse anyone of being divisive.

Hillary, the people of Haiti hate you and the Clinton Foundation.

Trump does say anything is rigged when he loses. He’s a sore loser. “I didn’t win an Emmy. It’s rigged. I’m not winning the Primary. It’s rigged.”

However, the DNC showed that “the establishment” is absolutely willing to rig things in Hillary’s favor. We don’t know how far up this goes, but we do know that the FBI director was unwilling to prosecute Hillary because she is Hillary Clinton.

I’d take someone blaming a rigged system over someone blaming the Russians and trying to start a war. As far as mindsets go, one is way more dangerous than the other.

Oh, good. Permanent stationing of troops in Iraq to fill in the power vacuum and keep Isis from rising again. Great. Wonderful. Perfect.

I can’t believe that I just listened to the Democratic presidential candidate advocating military action. What the fuck happened to this country? Didn’t the Democrats used to be anti-war? What happened to that? Oh, that’s right. They weren’t anti-war. They’re anti-Republican, and they just used “anti-war” as a way of going after Republicans.

I’m suddenly reminded of the South Park episode where the town splits itself in two over war, and it clearly characterized the town’s anti-war people as Democrats. Man, was that episode way off. Democrats don’t give a shit about war. They love war as much as Republicans do. Democrats just dislike Republicans. This is really, really bad.

America, we have to stop this. Stop it. Please. Just stop it.

Stop killing people.

I don’t fucking care what your reasons are. Stop killing people.

Just stop it.

Hillary: “…an intelligence surge that protects us here at home.” Combined with her beating of the war drums aimed at Syria, I have to say… that scares me. I see bad things coming down the future. The rise of an American Gestapo. Thoughtcrime—thoughtcrime is already becoming a thing, and, yep, it’s the faux progressivists and their “micro-aggressions” who are creating it. I can’t believe this is happening. This absolutely must be stopped.

We must say it loudly, clearly, and unambiguously. “We will support no more war.”

All American soldiers should be returned to U.S. soil. No if’s, and’s, or but’s.

“If you’re too dangerous to fly, you’re too dangerous to buy a gun…” Fuck, man. The writing is on the wall. It’s all right there. Just combine everything we know. Trump isn’t the next Hitler.

Hillary is.

“…to gain some leverage over the Russian government…

Hillary is so goddamned dangerous.

I had to pause the video and reboot my brain when Hillary began criticizing Trump for lying. Really, Hillary? You’re both liars. Between the two of you, I think Trump is probably more honest than you, but of course he’s a liar.

“They’re digging underground…”

Damn, that sounds familiar.

“Aleppo has fallen. What do you need, a signed document?”

That shit’s funny, man. I can’t believe a U.S. presidential candidate just tossed out sarcasm like that in a debate.

“if she did nothing [in Syria], we’d be in much better shape.”

I really wish Trump would stick to non-interventionism. He’d be a passable candidate if he did. But he doesn’t. I’m not convinced that he’s speaking generally, or if he’s talking from hindsight. I think he’s talking from hindsight. Maybe not. I mean, the lessons aren’t hard to learn. Anyone who has been paying attention must surely know that our stupid military adventures are stupid and damaging to our own long-term interests.

Clinton wants a No Fly Zone in Syria.

Serious question.

By what right do we impose a No Fly Zone on a country? Can you imagine if Canada said, “We’re going to impose a No Fly Zone on the United States”? We’d immediately shout back, “Who the hell do you think you are? We’ll shoot your planes out of the sky if you try it.”

So it’s about arrogance and entitlement. We’re just like “Who cares? We’re big and powerful, so we can impose a No Fly Zone any-fucking-where we want.” People… You’re really breaking my heart, America. I can’t believe that we have become so arrogant, so entitled, so aggressive, so bloodthirsty, so vile, so petty, and so disgusting that we think we have any right whatsoever to impose a No Fly Zone on another country.

And we just… take it for granted. We don’t even stop to ask, “Wait. We don’t have any authority over Syria. What the actual fuck? A No Fly Zone? That’s an act of war. Are we declaring war on Syria? No! Because declaring war is so passé. Instead, we’re just going to commit acts of war on a country we’re not at war with, which I’m pretty sure is a violation of the Geneva Convention.”

America: proof that even a country founded by people who explicitly spoke out against military intervention and entangling alliances can become a bloodthirsty imperialist war machine.

Processed Corn Pudding Goop – Update

So I’ve decided that Processed Corn Pudding Goop isn’t going to have a plot. It’s essentially just the story of a millennial coming to terms with the absolute meaningless of existence, and making the step from that to the realization that the fact that existence is meaningless is, itself, meaningless. A plot wouldn’t fit the narrative. It’s a book for the nihilistic millennials who haven’t made that final step and who are lost in a sea of oblivion–“What is the point? There isn’t one. We die, and then that’s that.” “We live, we die, and there’s usually some bullshit between the two.” This is currently the project I’m working on while I wait to hear back from agents on Dancing in Hellfire, and from Playboy and a few other magazines about “Dead or Alive.”

The formatting got fucked; I apologize. It may fix itself when I publish, though. Even if you read part one, it may be worth reading this again, since I’ve done a bit of editing. This is a first draft that I’m sharing as I’m writing; typos and all that aren’t really important. Like at one point it says “…shaking in angry…” when it meant “shaking in anger.” I make that mistake a lot for some reason. C’est la vie.

Chapter 1

 

Support your local businesses.

 

Everyone said that. And it made total sense, really. In fact, nothing made more sense as I put yet another can of Supergrocery brand Processed Corn Goop on the shelf, marked down to eighty-four cents a can–a savings of 1.2 cents an ounce, according to the obnoxiously red piece of cardboard paper I’d slid over the yellow one. Of course, it was all bullshit. There was no real savings going on here, since whatever poor sap bought this crap was basically paying eighty-four cents to shit out this hyperprocessed, homogenized goop that the FDA allowed to be called “food.” There was about as much food in it as there was human excrement. And even so, the price had been just eighty-two cents a can just two weeks ago, before management upped the price temporarily so that they could reduce it a bit and sell it back to the fat fucking idiots at a “discount.”

 

Most people wouldn’t buy the goop anyway, because they’d insist on buying Namebrand Goop, declaring to anyone who would listen that there really was a difference. And yeah, in some cases that’s true, but when Supergrocery Brand is a subsidiary of Neutral Brand that is a subsidiary of Namebrand and it’s all just Goop made in the same factory–yes, factory. This stuff isn’t produced on a farm or anywhere else you’d expect food to come from. But that’s the rule of American society, that rule that only heretics break: Namebrand is better than Supergrocery brand.

 

I wasn’t surprised when I watched the clan of fat white trailer trash come down the aisle, inexorably toward me like a ball rolling down a hill that no one could stop. Like an old cartoon of a cat chasing a mouse, the woman–if you can call her that, because she was more like a giant toad that some circusmaster had tricked into standing up and putting on a pair of sweat-stained sweatpants–had seen a sale on pudding further down the aisle. She wouldn’t have been trailer trash without towing three kids behind her–and I felt bad for them, but there was nothing to be done.

 

She glared so hatefully at me as she pushed her basket–a basket that might as well have been called a Repository For Corn Syrup–past me and my ladder, as though I was in her way, or as though I was the enemy in my stupid red vest and nametag. Like I had betrayed her by not calling her and telling her the pudding was on sale. And I realized–that’s probably how she felt. That was her pudding.

 

Her kids meekly passed by, and one of them even said “Excuse me.”

 

I pretended to move cans of Processed Corn Goop around while I watched the woman from the corner of my eye, and it was actually kind of cute, once she reached the pudding, how she acted like she hadn’t been running to get there before anyone else could. Well, no, she wasn’t running, not really. She was too fat to run. She’d have keeled over and died right there in the aisle if she’d tried.

 

It’s why all employees are trained to perform CPR.

 

For when fat asses get over-excited about the 3% discount on Processed Corn Pudding Goop.

 

It wasn’t even hard to figure out how this had happened. Of course, no one is talking about in the open, and no one is going to. It’s that elephant in the room, that open secret that everyone knows but is too afraid to say, and that’s why there will never be a direct study on it. In fact, the only graph you can find about it simply shows the increase in how much corn has been grown in the country over the past century. The increase is alarming, but it doesn’t suggest, by itself, that the corn is more present in foods.

 

cornEverything contains high fructose corn syrup. It’s so common that we’ve now started stamping the outliers with things like “Contains Real Sugar!” This, of course, leaves people like me asking “As opposed to what? Fake sugar?”

 

“Correct.”

 

As opposed to fake sugar.

 

Aka, corn syrup.

 

And it’s everywhere. Fast food places load their foods with corn syrup, even things like hamburgers, in order to make them more addictive. That chocolate syrup, that can of Ravioli Pasta in Tomato Sauce Goop–it’s all corn syrup, with corn probably listed somewhere in the first five ingredients.

 

And what do you know. Diabetes has increased proportionally. Imagine that.diabetes

 

Who would ever have guessed.

 

Of course, I don’t really blame the sack of puss and corn syrup at the end of the aisle, hungrily licking her lips as she estimates how many little containers of Processed Corn Pudding Goop she can suck down in twelve seconds, because she wasn’t really the one who put the Mom & Pop stores out of business–that happened when she was a teenager, and it was her parents who did it, because they couldn’t resist the temptation of paying eight-four cents for a can of Processed Corn Goop instead of a dollar and seven cents for an ear of actual fucking corn. And then they’d have to shuck it themselves, boil it, cook it, and ugh.

 

So much trouble.

 

So much easier to just save money and buy Processed Corn Goop.

 

“Eric.”

 

I closed my eyes and silently groaned. That nasally, whiny voice could only have been my supervisor, standing on the ground behind me in his red vest lined with a white stripe, with a stupid fucking black star by his name and the words “Assistant Supervisor” under his name. I didn’t have to look at his balding head and gigantic nose, or that stupid Hitler mustache that he was so fond of–really, if you watch him sometime, you’ll see him reaching up and caressing it every few minutes.

 

Steve is the kind of guy who probably spends a few minutes in front of the mirror every morning reminding himself that he’s the champion of the world. He probably does that despite the fact that his wife left his impotent ass for a guy who was half his age when her uncle died and left her enough money that she could live out the rest of her days without being married to a cretin that weighed seventeen pounds and spent his college years on the Quiz Bowl team instead of getting laid. What happened, Steve? Did getting that last question in the finals wrong fuck your life up that bad? Was your entire future really riding on that one question? Because now you’re a sad, pathetic, forty-nine year old man with a combover and Hitler ‘stache, wearing a gay ass red vest with a black star on your nametag, haunted by the word Assistant Supervisor because you just can’t kiss up to Anthony’s ass hard enough or fast enough to outrank the new blonde with a huge rack.

 

And I’m just curious when things went wrong.

 

“Eric,” Steve said, this time more firmly.

 

“What, Steve?” I asked, but I still didn’t bother to look at him. I was too fascinated by the scene unfolding with the pile of diabetes at the end of the aisle and her daughter saying that she didn’t like butterscotch and that she wanted vanilla. What a dilemma, especially since the Repository For Corn Syrup was being paid for with food stamps that were, according to the law, intended to buy food for the children. But was it really for the children if she got the flavors that she liked, and not the flavors the kids liked?

 

How about an apple?

 

“I asked you yesterday to take the boxes from Storage Room A–the ones stacked near the door–and move them to Storage Room C so that we can bring a new shipment of–”

 

I asked you yesterday.

 

That’s why Steve had to remind himself that he was a champion every morning.

 

Because he wasn’t a champion.

 

Champions don’t ask their employees to do things, Steve. It’s not just the blonde’s huge rack that Anthony likes looking at that caused you to become her assistant, and not the other way around. It’s because people listen to Jillian. I mean, yeah, people listen to Jillian because she’s a hot blonde with huge tits, but that’s not the point. One way or another, people do the things that she asks them to do, so it doesn’t matter that she’s asking rather than telling. But you, Steve, with your combover and Hitler mustache–you have to command. And you don’t. You’re a pitiful sheep in a world ruled by lions, and the only reason you’re an assistant supervisor is that they’ve taken pity on you.

 

Praise your masters, Steve.

 

Then lick their boots.

 

Watching Steve suck up to Jillian is some of the best entertainment we get. We take bets on how long Steve has left before he’s fired, but it’s just a matter of time before he’s walking out the door for the final time, banned from the premises as long as Jillian works here, because Steve isn’t the kind of guy that can look at a girl’s bouncing tits without it being creepy. Some people can do that. Some guys can openly check out the goods–the real goods, not the Processed Corn Goop–and grin at the girl without her being offended–it’s just human nature, and some guys can pull it off.

 

Not Steve.

 

Steve would be wise to grow a goatee to go with his Hitler stache. That way, something will catch his drool, and he won’t have to worry about it sliding down his chin and into the floor as he stares hungrily–almost exactly like Mrs. Diabetes down there looking over the Processed Corn Pudding Goop–at Jillian’s breasts.

 

“Clean up on Aisle 7. Steve was staring at Jillian’s tits again.”

 

“…then I’m afraid I’m going to have to file a formal reprimand,” Steve finished.

 

The formal reprimand.

 

Paperwork acknowledging that Steve came and interrupted me while I was trying to do my goddamned job, put his hands on his hips, narrowed his eyes, and told me he was disappointed in me.

 

No, Steve!

 

Take it back, Steve!

 

“What?” I asked.

 

Steve scoffed, but it wasn’t a true scoff. It was the Wannabe Supervisor’s Scoff. It was that thing people do when they’re frustrated because their entire life is a joke and they themselves are a joke, and everything about their life sucks, and everyone knows it, but no one calls them out on it because we’re a society of civilized people. After all, we don’t even eat that uncouth, uncivilized corn. No, we eat Processed Corn Goop, by God! And so we serve up synthetic respect with about as much authentic admiration in it as there is real food in the Processed Corn Goop. Fake food, fake respect. Hell, fake faces, fake tits, fake tans, fake clothes, fake money.

 

Fake lives.

 

“I said that if those boxes are still there when the shipment arrives, then I’ll have to file a formal reprimand!”

 

So there was no need for me to move the boxes before now, right? So why did I have to do it yesterday? And with all the effort you’ve spent bitching about the boxes, wouldn’t it have been faster for you to move the damned things?

 

“How about you move the boxes, Steve?” I asked.

 

Most people wouldn’t dare mouth off to a supervisor an assistant supervisor like that, but this was Steve. Mr. Combover. Mr. Hitler Mustache. Mr. Some Guy Half My Age is Fucking My Ex-Wife. This was Assistant Supervisor I’m a Champion Steve.

 

Fuck Steve.

 

“I–ech–” Steve stuttered out, his typical response. He rolled his eyes and shook his head, making weird noises as he tried to process the reality that he wasn’t even worthy of Fake Respect from the people who stocked Fake Food in a Fake Society. “I asked you to do it.”

 

“I’m busy, Steve.”

 

Your entire life is a lie, Steve.

 

“What time is the shipment coming?” I asked. I’m not a bad person. I do feel bad for Steve. It’s not really his fault that he’s Mr. Combover.

 

After giving me the info, I assured Steve that I’d move the boxes by then. So Steve turned and started to walk away, but decided to mouth off a bit himself. “You’d better, otherwise I’ll have to do a formal reprimand,” he threatened again, as though that had any sway at all. That’s what’s funny about people like Fake Steve and our Fake Respect. If we don’t show that Fake Respect, and if we don’t show Fake Fear for the Fake Reprimand, then the entire system crumbles–if we don’t Fake Kneel to the Fake Threat and the Fake Consequences, then Fake Steve can’t do anything. His threat was every bit as fake as the Processed Corn Pudding Goop.

 

Chapter 2

 

What do you do when you wake up on a mattress at eleven in the morning, to banging on your apartment front door, to the landlord outside wanting to find out why there were men coming and going from your place at all hours of the night? When you groggily look at her naked body beneath the sheet and wonder briefly why the two of you have never bothered to actually put the sheet on the bed, why you lay down on the bare mattress?

 

Because why bother to?

 

It’s that moment, with the landlord knocking at the door–and you know it’s the landlord, because it wouldn’t be anyone else–scratching the back of your neck and catching a glimpse of your naked body in the nicotine-coated mirror above the desk–when you see out of the window everyone going about their lives, running continually in circles, hamsters on a wheel.

 

Birth. School. Marriage. Kids. Death.

 

Chasing fake things in a fake society, sustaining ourselves on fake food purchased with fake money, giving fake respect to fake supervisors because of fake fear about a fake reprimand. Too many of these fake reprimands and we’ll lose our fake job putting fake food on a shelf, lose our ability to earn fake money to buy that fake food and pay our fake rent and fake taxes to a fake government that oversees a fake society and implements a fake morality to govern our fake lives.

 

Hamsters on a wheel. Birth, school, marriage, kids, death.

 

Some people say that I have an attitude problem. I say that I understand why it looks that way to them, but what I really have is a reality problem. I’ve seen through the bullshit. All these fake human constructs that we bow to, not out of wisdom or insight or progress, but simply out of habit and tradition. We were birthed on the hamster wheel and we’ll run our lives on the hamster wheel because we’ve been on it since birth, and it never even occurred to us that the hamster wheel was bullshit.

 

Real text messages from fake friends, that blurry line between what is actually real and what is total fiction. Fake friends born not out of love and compassion but out of circumstance–they were tolerable people that happened to be around me, and vice versa. “Your place this weekend?” the fake friend asked, wanting to watch “the game” somewhere and being too cheap to go and pay fake money at a bar for the beer that he uses to forget how much it sucks to waste his real life running on a fake hamster wheel, and too cheap to pay a fake bill for cable television–that wretched box of fake fictions that people escape into from their fake lives in a real universe.

 

An average child watches 1,480 minutes of television a week. That’s a figure that would horrify a real person. 24.6 hours of television every week–about 3.5 hours a day. Just sitting on their fat asses eating fake food and watching fake realities unfold. In that same year, the child will watch more than 16,000 thirty second commercials advertising fake shit for their fake parents to buy with fake money.

 

Why are their parents fake? Because the average person spends 5 hours and eleven minutes a day watching television.

 

Nothing has been more destructive to our species than television.

 

So now 67% of American families sit around–a stepdad or stepmom, since the divorce rate is so high, and a real parent, 2.5 kids–not at a dinner table, but on a sofa, staring at the fake realities glowing at them and eating fake food that their fake parents bought with fake money working at a fake job. I’ve never felt so patriotic.

 

Lana is even crazier than I am, though, and it’s thanks to her that I see all this fake bullshit for what it is.

 

She’s stunningly gorgeous, and sexy beyond what you can imagine since you’ve never seen anyone like her. And that was the problem. She’s part of those statistics, too, and Fake Dad had a hard time keeping his hands to himself. When she told Fake Mom, Fake Mom didn’t believe her, and even when she showed Fake Mom the bruises, she simply got grounded and was accused of seducing Fake Dad. So she ran away.

 

I would point out that even as a fifteen year old, Lana was sexy and gorgeous, but that would violate society’s fake morals–the same ideas that led to fake laws that would have prosecuted Fake Dad if Fake Mom had been able to tell the difference between real and fake. But a fifteen year old beautiful and sexy girl running away didn’t have an easy time of it, and she was a hooker on the streets within six months, addicted to heroin and HIV Positive. Turns out there’s no shortage of Fake Dads out there looking to fuck a fifteen year old girl away from the watchful eyes of the fake laws of a fake society.

 

When I met her, she was twenty years old, a year younger than myself, and propositioned me as I walked back from a night of drinking beer with fake friends and watching a fake sporting event. She was too damned sexy and too damned beautiful, so I accepted–then I visited her again the next night, and the next, and the next. Her pimp started getting irritated–apparently that industry doesn’t care much for “repeat customers”–and beat the hell out of her.

 

So I put a real gun to his head, pulled the real trigger, and ended his fake life.

 

The cops made a token effort to look into it, but a pimp and drug dealer shot and killed in a city filled with drugs and prostitutes? Hell, I did them a favor. That’s one less drug dealer and pimp on the streets. They just weren’t allowed to say it. Just like I’m not allowed to tell Steve that his life is a lie and he should kill himself. So they pretended to look into it, but even as Lana–known to be one of his girls–moved into my apartment, they didn’t even bother to come and question me. Fake rules governing a fake society. Don’t show them fake respect, and the whole thing comes apart.

 

The really difficult part came in later, when Lana made it clear that she intended to become a… “freelancer,” and that she had no intention of finding another line of work. She had real feelings for me, and we had a real relationship–her points about it all was that it shouldn’t matter if she had fake sex with other people. I really wasn’t ready then to accept that, but I cared too much about her to let her go, so I fake accepted it.

 

And at some point I just stopped caring about that. What did it matter? What did any of it matter?

 

It didn’t.

 

Fake significance.

 

“Why do you care if other guys pay to fuck me?”

 

That’s the question that will turn your entire world upside down if you try to come up with a real answer to it. It’s impossible to answer in the first place without laying some kind of claim on the girl, without suggesting that her pussy is yours, and that’s never a good thing to say in a relationship. Because no–her pussy is hers. And trying to go beyond that to come up with any answer at all when tear away delusions from your worldview one by one, until you’re a frightened little child crying in the corner, trying to figure out what, exactly, is real.

 

I ignored the banging on the door, because I knew it wouldn’t last long. Captain Stick in the Ass would get bored and waddle his fat ass back down the stairs. There wouldn’t have been a problem anyway, if it hadn’t been for the people who lived below. They were an elderly couple–well, sixty or so.

 

The man was a sack of fat ass–Yes, everyone is fat. I don’t know very many people who aren’t fat, in fact. Anyway, he was actually extremely fat, diabetic (which I knew because it was a topic that came up within the first fifteen seconds of talking to him), and had no idea how to speak at a proper volume. Whether you were a hundred yards away or right in his face, he was the loudest motherfucker I’ve ever met. I’ve actually met his son, and his son was a pretty cool guy who offered up the excuse that his dad had changed drastically “after he ran himself over.”

 

I’m sorry–come again?

 

Ran himself over.

 

He was working on his truck one day and had it jacked up, but was on a hill apparently and had done nothing to keep it from rolling. When paramedics arrived on the scene, he had been dead for 7 minutes. They managed to resuscitate him, and he recovered pretty well, but the working theory is that 7 minutes without any air going to his brain left him obnoxious as fuck. He didn’t become stupid or helpless or anything–just tremendously annoying.

 

His wife wasn’t any better, and she was probably fatter than he was, although shorter and with a better mustache. Neither of them worked, because they were both on disability. He was on disability because he’d been run over and never really recovered physically–which I would believe, but I don’t think he tried to recover. Like, he’s exactly the kind of diabetic people think of when they think of Adult Onset Diabetes. For years, he ate breakfast at a popular fast food place every single day, ballooning the entire time, and was finally diagnosed with diabetes. Did he stop the breakfast?

 

No. He simply started injecting insulin or whatever people like him do, and he continued to plop his fat fucking ass down and eat greasy fast food breakfast every single day. A year later, he had a heart attack, and the doctor finally convinced him to stop eating fast food. It didn’t really change anything, because he just had his wife start cooking the same sausage and bacon instead of ordering it, but… Baby steps, I guess.

 

The man was fully convinced that it was the doctors’ responsibility to simply cure him, and that he shouldn’t have to change his diet or start exercising. “That’s what I’m paying them for,” he would say. “To cure me. Why am I paying them to cure me, if what I have to do is cure myself?” He rejected it completely–the doctors were supposed to cure him and accommodate his lifestyle, diet, and laziness. Of course, he wasn’t paying the doctors anyway. The government was.

 

His wife and her mustache had spent about two years fighting with the government so that she could retire early on disability or something like that, and they were finally successful, which resulted in her receiving a check for something like sixteen thousand dollars for doing nothing except being lazy, fat, and ignorant, and randomly deciding one day that she just didn’t want to work anymore. Presumably, someone somewhere in the government shrugged and wrote her a fat fucking check to go into her fat fucking pocket so that she could support her husband’s addiction to fast food Processed Corn Sausage Goop.

 

They were deeply unhappy and deeply miserable, which meant, of course, that they had to make sure everyone else was miserable. That was something I learned very quickly after Lana shacked up with me. I hadn’t noticed it before, but… Everyone was miserable. The random people I passed on the street every single day—they were screaming on the inside, raging, thrashing, a meek soul raking its nails at the inner recesses of the mind where it was trapped. Where it was doomed to remain trapped, because we’d long since forgotten it was there.

 

We’re so terrified of ourselves, reality, the universe—whatever you want to call it. Existence. We quiver in fear and shake our heads, crying fetal in the floor in a panicked state of bewilderment, refusing to accept everything. So we turn our devotion to illusions, to things that are fake. We invent systems—economic, religious, political—and we devote ourselves to those, giving them significance and dedicating our lives to them in one form or another, and we become so attached to them that we allow ourselves to forget that they are fictions we created because we couldn’t bear to look reality in the face, because we’re cowards sitting in the dark trailer with the curtains drawn, aghast at the idea of looking outside because we fear we might see the face of the devil, and even though we know that we will see no such thing, we just sit there anyway.

Piles of processed corn pudding goop.

 

Some part of us always senses that something is wrong, though. How can we not? It requires us to maintain a state of constant cognitive dissonance, and if it slips for even a moment, there it is—bam!—oblivion, staring back at us. We know what’s on the other side of the illusion. We just don’t talk about it.

 

Instead we yell and scream at the fat, mustached wife who tells us that we can’t eat fast food for breakfast any longer. Instead, she yells at us for stupid shit that even she doesn’t really care about. Together, we yell at the rest of the world. We have to make sure the world is as miserable as we are, because otherwise we’ll find ourselves sitting there in isolation as laughter rings out in the darkness, shining like a light onto our roach-like lives and sending us scurrying for shadows that have been banished by the neighbor’s joviality.

 

Heading in unison toward the cliff with nothing but cold emptiness and eternal sleep awaiting us at the bottom, dead and too dead to even know we’re dead, like zombies as we stare up at the glowing box that beams directly to us temporary escapes from our meaningless lives as the conveyor belt of time carries us inexorably toward non-existence.

 

Splat!

 

Landing at the bottom, another dead pile of processed corn pudding goop.

 

Clean up in aisle 7.

 

I’m every bit as miserable as everyone else—miserable and misanthropic. The only real difference is that I’m keenly aware of the misery that coats my soul, shiny, like Steve’s bald spot—reflecting everything outward and letting nothing true, least of all existence and life. I can’t even say that it’s really advantageous. We’re all miserable. What have I gained by accepting that?

 

Nothing, really. Even if we all could accept the empty desolation that is existence, it wouldn’t mean a thing for anyone. There is no conceivable change that could make things better; we’ll all continue to be miserable, simply conscious of it. And that’s when it hits you. Waking up at eleven in the morning in a ramshackle apartment, lying on a mattress that sits on the floor and that no one bothered to even cover with a sheet as some stupid dick bangs on the door, that’s when the realization hits you.

 

This is hell.

 

We live in hell.

 

And years and decades of life in hell has made everyone insane. They have to escape into the television sitcoms and care about them, because otherwise they have to care about hell. They have to focus on ridiculous human fictions like bank accounts and picket fences, because otherwise they have to care about hell. That’s the choice we’re given. Invisibly and subtly, because no one ever sits down to say it, but maybe they should.

 

“You can choose between hell or illusions.”

 

Maybe I’m the insane one for choosing hell.

 

Chapter 3

 

Steve managed to wait an entire seven minutes before coming to bother me. It was just a perfect example of his insanity. Steve knew that he wanted to stand by the employee entrance, arms crossed, ready to scream and berate me as soon as I appeared. He wouldn’t do that, though—no, he had to deny himself. He had to appear civilized, this psychotic feces-flinging ape. His blood boiled, his stupid Hitler mustache quivered with rage, his face turned beet red, and his combover fell as he sat tapping his fingers on his “desk” waiting on my arrival, each second passing adding to his anger and hostility. But I wasn’t the one that Steve was angry at, not really. I was just the catalyst. Steve was angry at life, furious that he couldn’t plant himself beside the door and greet me with a string of profanities and insults.

 

Steve wanted corn, but there was only processed corn pudding goop.

 

“I need to see you in my office,” Steve said flatly to me as I pretended to be working. I was okay with that. Steve pretended to have authority, and I played along with that—it was my own dish of processed corn pudding goop. It seemed to me that the least Steve could do was play along when I pretended to be working. Speaking without any tone in his voice was what Steve understood to be “commanding,” but I’d bet all the real corn in the world that, if my back hadn’t been turned, I’d have seen that Steve’s eyes were cast down to the floor as he walked past, too weak to actually stop and speak.

 

I was in no hurry. Steve wasn’t going anywhere—in any sense. That’s the most generous thing that could be said of a middle aged fat man with a combover who worked as an assistant supervisor at a grocery store. “The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older, shorter of breath, and one day closer to death.” Steve’s conveyor belt just kept turning, and he seemed almost unaware of it. Maybe he was squeezing his eyes shut, convinced that this moment was the only moment, and therefore infinite.

 

So I ensured that this moment—which I’d have described as “me not sitting and being blasted by the hideous soup of gelatin, high fructose corn syrup, and bacteria that roiled in the hurricane of Steve’s mouth as his tongue lashed around frantically to skirt the border between the world of corn and the world of processed corn pudding goop, and while little devils bound his mind with chains and repeated hypnotically that he had to be civilized”—lasted as long as possible, and just stood there for a few minutes, anticipating the circus of illusions and mutual delusion that awaited me.

 

I stopped at a drink machine and inserted three worthless coins—fake money to buy a fake drink that I fake wanted. I wasn’t thirsty, and wouldn’t drink that liquid diabetes even if I had been, but I did enjoy the fact that Steve could see me from his office as I slowly bought it. Three quarters made of mostly copper and nickel—utterly worthless. Well, that wasn’t true. It was worth two pennies. Well, strictly speaking it was actually worth four pennies, because a penny itself wasn’t actually worth one cent, but a half of a cent. That was the game, of course—to give us money that was worth as little as possible measured in its own denominations. A twenty-five cent coin was worth two cents.

 

Makes perfect sense.

 

 

The Age of Hysteria: Clowns, Russians, Assange, and Americans

What do clowns and Russians have in common?

That Americans are swept up in hysterical fear of them without a damned bit of evidence to support the paranoia and without any good reason why anyone should be afraid.

be-afraid

One could say I’ve spent the last month studying and considering hysteria, how it develops, how it spreads, and how it rules the mind of those who are swept up in it. I’ve postulated an explanation for the ubiquity of this hysteria, although I’m not entirely convinced that the hysteria needs an explanation–perhaps we have always been on the edge of insanity. The Salem Witch Trials would certainly suggest so. Speculating that our increasing inability to see the world in anything but the terms of Either/Or has given us the notion that the side who agrees with us is, at the least tolerable, while the side who disagrees with us is “literally Hitler” and “literally the Devil,” it’s been my hope that I might figure out why we are going to wake up in January saying either “President Trump” or “President Hillary,” two people who, by all rights, should be grinding their teeth angrily because they are trapped in a position where their job is fetching coffee for the president and his aides.

Yet all of that became meaningless as I read through an article at The Guardian about Julian Assange, and then made the mistake of reading the comments. Now, you may remember that I am no fan of Julian Assange these days, primarily because I think “whatever he once was” has become lost in his personality and his placement of himself as the gatekeeper of seemingly-critical information. Assange made this horrible bed for himself–not by releasing classified information, though… By doing the opposite, in fact–and I have very little sympathy that he must now lie in it.

Anyway, all of that is neither here nor there; I just wanted to give an understanding of my position on Assange before we proceed. I don’t want to talk about Wikileaks. In fact, I want to talk about hysteria.

wikileaks1As myself and so many others pointed out, this whole mess with blaming the Russians was started by the Democrats, clearly as a way of distracting from the contents of the leaks. I wrote that article on September 27, saying:

Hackers have pulled back the curtain and have shown us the man standing there, maneuvering levers and talking into a microphone, and the great, green glowing head is shouting at us, “Ignore that man behind the curtain! The dog is out to get you! That damned dog! That dog hates you and wants to see you destroyed!”

And now, only three weeks later, the allegation has memetically made its way throughout the United States, and we now have a liberal army of people convinced that the Russians are out to get them, because Hillary told them so, and then Obama told them so. It is irrelevant that the Democrats merely pointed at the Russians and shouted, “They did it!” and have never presented a shred of evidence that Russians are responsible–in fact, I lean toward the hypothesis that Sanders supporters are responsible, and that the leaks actually come from within the Democrat Party. But that’s speculation, too. However, my speculation is at least as likely to be true as Hillary’s. Moreover, since I have no skin in the game, I am a much more trustworthy source.

Dawkins would be proud.

Soren_Arkwright accurately summarizes the bullshit being fed:

wikileaks2Many months ago, I wrote an article about how the 2016 election is a case-study on the devolution of democracy, and I think that’s something worth revisiting now, so here it is.

It’s a matter of some interest to me that Hillary supporters accuse me of supporting Trump, while Trump supporters accuse me of supporting Hillary. I assure you, I despise them both, probably equal, though I hate them for entirely different reasons. That makes it hard to compare the two. Hillary is much worse for the rest of the world, while Trump is much worse for us here at home. Do you want to take the beating so that children in Syria don’t have to? It’s not an easy question to answer, but that’s ultimately what the Hillary/Trump choice boils down to, and I want nothing to do with either of them.

I’m not pro-Trump or pro-Hillary.

I’m anti-sensationalism and anti-hysteria. Naturally, this means that I spend more time defending Trump and attacking liberals than I do attacking Trump and defending liberals. I mean, Republicans aren’t out there starting riots and then demanding to know who was the last presidential candidate since Hillary to incite riots. However, Democrats have done that. Republicans aren’t out there behaving like Nazis burning down the Reichstag Building* by attacking Democrat offices, yet democrats–and you know before I proceed that it’s fucking millennial Sanders supporters** doing it–absolutely are out there “firebombing” Republican offices. And, as I said on Quora, if someone says something or advocates a policy that you don’t like, and you respond with honest-to-fuck violence, then your opponent is not the Nazi.

You are.

And now anti-Russian hysteria is not just coming from the top, as it has been for a while. In fact, Hillary has been beating the Drums of War while staring at Russia since she secured the nomination, and the situation in Syria is shaping up like a classic catalyst to lead to a larger war. We are now fighting a proxy war against Russia in Syria. We all understand this, right? Syria is a three-way conflict between Assad and the Russians, the U.S. and rebels, and Isis.

Of course, Isis only has a foothold there because we backed the rebels and gave them weapons, which destabilized the country and loosened Assad’s grip on power. This created a vacuum that Isis happily swept in from Iraq–where a similar power vacuum had given then prominence–to fill in the gap. I mean, we pretty much created this mess when we started arming the rebels. There’s a reason Putin accuses us of supporting Isis.

Oh, I know. Americans aren’t interested in having Putin tell us about the tremendously fucked up things that our government is getting up to. We were beating the drums of war with Syria long before Isis was there, though. Do you remember that? A lot of things happen here in the United States, and we’re constantly fed bullshit; it can be really hard to remember that this or that happened. But think back to the rise of the rebels in Syria, and the allegation that Assad had used chemical weapons.

Seems like it was forever ago, doesn’t it? That is by design.

It was one of the few places Orwell got it totally wrong. The government doesn’t necessarily have to straight up lie to us and rely on our doublethink for us to say “We’ve always been at war with Eurasia.” They don’t have to, because we are fed so much shit on a daily basis that even someone with a powerful memory for these types of details is left going, “Wait… I don’t remember the details, but… Didn’t… That’s not right…?”

Remember when the United States clearly wanted to attack Russia? Obama drew his “line in the sand” or whatever, and Hillary was loud in her vocalization in support of attacking Assad. Then Kerry gaffed and gave Assad an out, completely by accident. Do you remember the sentiment? The United States was angry with Kerry for paving the way to avoid war. There was a lot of talk that Kerry’s offer wasn’t enforceable, and that it didn’t matter what he said; we didn’t have to keep his promise. It was insane to watch, but it was entirely clear: the United States wanted war with Assad.

And now Isis is there.

This happened somewhere else, too. It happened in Iraq. DAESH has existed since 1999 in Iraq. However, they were a nothing group without any significance. Until 2003. “Some time in 2003”–I’ll leave it to your imagination to guess when that “some time” was–Isis began recruiting and militarizing. We invaded, toppled Saddam Hussein, left a weak, broken government behind, and then left. While I’m for the leaving, I’m against the vacuum we created there in the first place.

And now Isis is there.

Indeed, if you look on a map of military invasions throughout the Middle East, you’ll find there is a perfect correlation between a country being invaded and later becoming a hotspot for “terrorism.”

We also now have Russia in Syria, presumably having drawn their own line in the sand. Far be it from me to guess what anyone is thinking, but I don’t think Russia is going to let us topple Assad the way we did the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. And Gadhafi. And about three dozen others, possibly through covert operations.

I’ve no love for Russia and Putin, but a realistic look at the situation shows that Russia is a force of stabilization in Syria, while the United States is a force of destabilization. Why in the hell are we even viewing Russia as an enemy?

The Democrats’ anti-Russia propaganda has perpetuated itself among the stupid and gullible, though.

wikileaks3So in the past month, we watched an unknown but small number of clowns appear throughout the country innocuously, making no threats and violating no laws. Now, Target has pulled clown masks from its shelves. Municipalities have launched actual police investigations. Teens have been arrested for going on social media and “pretending to be clowns” making threats against people. People have wildly asserted that the clowns have been seen trying to lure children into the wounds–an allegation that has been widely debunked. Schools have gone into lockdowns.

I am proud to say that I was among the first to identify the hysteria. No, really. I was. In fact, I may have been the very first American to call the clown reaction “hysteria.” Now, it’s increasingly accepted that we are dealing with hysteria. My speculation that it was viral marketing for the upcoming remake of It remains on 100% solid ground, with not one piece of evidence refuting it, and the hysteria has mostly died down now. In short, I was right, and I am very much proud that I was able to see through the hysteria and call it the bullshit that it was.

It’s a curious thing, and now we see it happening with Russians. Simply replace “clowns” with “Russians,” and you have exactly the same phenomenon. “The clowns are dangerous and hostile!” becomes “The Russians are dangerous and hostile!” There is no evidence to support either claim, of course. “The clowns are out to hurt us!” becomes “The Russians are out to hurt us!” There is no evidence to support either claim, of course.

We, as a people, are terrifyingly prone to bouts of hysteria. Did we learn nothing from the clown shit that just happened?

wiiileaks4This isn’t at all plausible, Tijger. Hillary explicitly joked about using a drone to kill Assange. While it was a joke–presumably–you’re engaging in some wicked doublethink to believe she doesn’t give a rats ass about him.

Anyway.

I’m not advocating anything, really, and I’m not speaking out against anyone. I’m just calling for everyone to calm the fuck down. Look, if we could just calm down and get our emotions under control for three weeks, we might be able to get something productive done. But as long as everyone is just at the edge of hysteria–some of them leaping gleefully over it–then we’re never going to be reasonable. That’s what we need right now: to be reasonable, to calm down, and to stop being hysterical.

* A conspiracy theory, but one with better than “likely” odds of being true.

** Strictly speaking, no more certain than the speculation that Russians are behind the Democrats’ hacks, to be fair. However, Sanders supporters have been pulling shit like this in the open for six months.